Dieters in Weight Watchers study drop up to 15 pounds in a year

Research has shown that dieters are more likely to stick with weight-loss programs that stress accountability.

Story highlights

  • People lost more on Weight Watchers than with docs' advice, WW study says
  • Studies of other weight loss plans have had comparable results
  • Researchers were surprised at participants' dedication
  • Weight Watchers funded the study but had no control over design or results
Overweight and obese adults who followed the Weight Watchers program lost more than twice as much weight as those who received weight-loss advice from a doctor or nurse, according to a new yearlong study funded by the company.
The study, which was published Wednesday in the Lancet, included 772 men and women in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom who were recruited during ordinary doctor's appointments. The researchers randomly selected about half of the participants to receive a free 12-month Weight Watchers membership (including access to weekly meetings), and encouraged the other half to attend monthly one-on-one weight-management sessions at their doctor's office.
The 61% of Weight Watchers users who stuck with the program for a full year lost 15 pounds, on average, compared with 7 pounds among the 54% of people in the other group who continued to visit their doctors each month. When the researchers included the people who dropped out of either program before the year was up, the average weight loss was lower but followed the same pattern: 11 pounds in the Weight Watchers group and 5 pounds in the other group.