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Weight Loss Programs - Study

What Consumers Want to Know about Commercial Weight-Loss Programs: A Pilot Investigation

Weight Loss Programs Study - Aim
In 1999, the Partnership for Healthy Weight Management recommended that providers of commercial weight-loss programs (and products) voluntarily disclose information concerning the safety, costs, and central components of their programs, as well as the credentials of program staff. These guidelines were drafted without the benefit of data from consumers concerning the specific information they desired. The present study provides such data.

Weight Loss Programs Study - Methods
Participants were 90 women with a mean age of 44.02 ± 9.17 years and body mass index of 36.11 ± 4.82 kg/m2 who were participants in one of two randomized weight-control trials. Before treatment, respondents were asked to imagine that they were "looking for a weight-loss plan" and to rate how important each of 16 factors would be in helping them select a plan. Ratings were made using 5-point scales, anchored by "not at all important" and "extremely important," (scored 1 and 5, respectively). Participants also identified the five factors that they thought were the most important, as well as the single most important.

Weight Loss Programs Study - Results
The mean rating for the importance of safety was significantly greater than that for each of the 15 other variables. In addition, significantly more respondents (27.8 percent) selected safety as the single most important factor than any other variable. Other factors that were consistently judged as very important included information about diet, behavior modification, cost, and maintenance of weight loss. Staff credentials (3.88 ± 0.83) were among the lowest rated items.

Weight Loss Programs Study - Issues
The results generally support the disclosure guidelines proposed by the Partnership for Health Weight Management. Consumers, however, seem to desire information about weight loss, in addition to that concerning safety, cost, and central program components.

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. 2003

Weight Loss Methods
The science of weight loss and obesity management is constantly evolving, along with research into weight loss drugs, supplements and gastric bypass surgery. At present, however, a balanced diet combined with regular exercise remains the favored weight management strategy of most weight loss experts.

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