People referred to commercial weight loss programmes lose on average twice as much weight than those in primary care settings, a study claims.
Researchers from the MRC Human Nutrition Research Unit in Cambridge compared weight loss in 772 overweight and obese adults in Australia, Germany and the UK.
Participants were randomly assigned to either receive 12 months of standard care in a primary care setting or 12 months of free membership to a Weight Watchers.
Mean weight change at 12 months was −5·06 kg for those in the commercial programme versus −2·25 kg for those receiving standard care.
Following the study, researchers have questioned whether primary care funds would be better spent on commercial weight loss programmes, rather than their own "less effective interventions".
However, they argue disinvestment in weight loss management in primary care would be "premature in the absence of other evidence".