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New Study In The Lancet: Partnership Between Primary Care Physicians And Weight Watchers Program Result In Greater Weight Loss In Overweight And Obese Adults

David Kirchhoff, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International says: "The Lancet study proves that Weight Watchers is part of the solution to help transform the health of nations. High and rising levels of overweight and obesity and the chronic disease that they cause put enormous pressure on limited and already overburdened healthcare resources.  There is a clear need for practical treatment solutions that are proven effective, affordable and scalable to have a population-wide impact.  This study adds significant evidence and credibility to the partnership between primary care and Weight Watchers as the leading front-line solution for meeting these criteria.  We believe that these kinds of partnerships ultimately hold the key for addressing obesity in the short and long term."

The study design was a randomized, prospective, controlled clinical trial, the gold standard in medical research.

As further proof of the effectiveness and scalability of this public health approach, physicians across the UK have been referring their overweight and obese patients to Weight Watchers for seven years.  An independent audit of this real world experience, published in BMC Public Health in June 2011, shows that it consistently delivers effective weight loss outcomes when employed in routine health care(3).

Notes to Editors:
  • This new Lancet publication adds to Weight Watchers published evidence base. As a global authority on evidence based weight management, with over 65 original publications, there is overwhelming data to demonstrate that the Weight Watchers methodology delivers consistent results across different populations and cultures.
  • In the UK the "Lighten Up" clinical trial from the University of Birmingham, presented recently in abstract form at the European Obesity Congress in Istanbul, revealed how commercial programs achieve "significantly greater weight loss" and are more cost effective compared with a range of treatments delivered by health professionals in the UK National Health Service.  It also concluded that out of all the interventions evaluated in the trial, only Weight Watchers patients achieved significantly greater sustained weight loss at the one year follow up, compared with those who tried to lose weight on their own(4).
  • A French Government review evaluated that Weight Watchers provided the best approach to achieving healthy weight control in terms of achieving a healthy, well-balanced diet(5).
  • Weight Watchers is the world's leading provider of weight management services with over 45 years of experience. Each week, approx 1.2 million members attend over 45,000 meetings around the world
  • For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognized research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk

Conflicts of Interest

All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf and declare: Financial support to their institutions for the submitted work from Weight Watchers, SAJ has received research grants for other clinical trials from Sanofi Aventis and Coca Cola. ICD, NSL, AES, NRF have received research grants for other clinical trials funded by Sanofi Aventis, Allergan, Roche products, MSD, GSK. NRF has received conference travel expenses from Allergan and HH has received a travel grant from Roche. SAJ is a member of the Tanita Medical Advisory Board and receives a fee for nutrition articles and lectures for Rosemary Conley Enterprises. HH is on the Advisory Board for Weight Watchers International and has received payment for lectures from Sara Lee, Lilly, Novartis, Sanofi Aventis, and BMS. IDC was a board member for the SCOUT trial and has received payment for lectures from iNova Pharmaceuticals, Eisai Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Australia, Servier Laboratories ( Australia).

This trial was funded by Weight Watchers International but run as an investigator-led trial, with protocol development, all data collection and analysis undertaken by the research team with no input from Weight Watchers.

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