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Here today, gone tomorrow - but back again before long.

In one year, we Americans will spend as much as $10 billion trying to get rid of unwanted weight. How successful are those highly-touted programs like Nutri/System, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, etc.?

Not very, says a recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Thomas Wadden of Syracuse University studied 517 obese persons (at least 30 percent overweight) who entered just one of these programs. The program was to last 26 weeks, using a liquid formula diet that provided a mere 420-800 calories each day. Gradually, the dieters would progress to a diet of conventional foods that provided 1,000-1,500 calories. The program also in- cluded weekly classes in "lifestyle modification."

Slightly more than half of the participants actually completed the program, losing an average 53 pounds. Of these only 118 submitted themselves to follow-up. Only 24 of these 118 maintained their weight loss: 14 had gained it all back. Overall, the group had been able to maintain about 60 percent of their weight loss.

As for the 232 persons who dropped out of the program, no statistics were available. Thus, of 517 who started the program (and expended big bucks in doing so). only 67 maintained a weight loss of at least 22 pounds at the end of the first year. (And one can assume that the number of successful participants is now much less than that, judging by statistics obtained in other, well documented weight-loss programs.)

Regrettably, there is no agency, private or govemmental, that oversees the claims of such weight-loss programs to determine whether they are effective. New York City. however, does require a simple disclosure of results. If other programs are no more successful than the one studied in this report, it would behoove other cities to follow New York's lead.
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Title Annotation:weight loss
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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