Weight Watchers Works: Study

Jennifer Hudson had her share of skeptics when she shed 80 pounds and came out as the spokesperson for Weight Watchers. But a new study on the efficacy of the popular weight-loss program may give her claim some cred.

A new, one-year global study published in The Lancet indicates that overweight and obese adults referred to Weight Watchers lost more than twice as much weight when compared with those who received standard care.

For the study, 772 overweight English, German and Australian patients were assigned to attend either weekly Weight Watchers meetings or receive standard weight-loss care from a primary care doctor. Twelve months later, patients assigned to Weight Watchers lost on average 15 pounds, compared to seven pounds in the standard care group.

"The significantly greater weight loss among Weight Watchers participants was accompanied by significantly greater reductions in waist size and fat mass; lessening the risk of Type 2 diabetes," the researchers said in a news release.

The study comes close on the heels of an update to the ongoing Black Women's Health Study, which has shown that the risk of death among African-American women goes up incrementally with increasing body mass index over 25. That research, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, backs up what researchers have found in other populations and refutes previous data that suggested that the risk of weight-related death in African Americans increases only at very high BMI levels, such as 35 and up.

A big waist, over 35 inches, also boosts risk, according to study author Julie R. Palmer, ScD, professor of epidemiology at Boston University. "Regardless of BMI, having a large waist size, which is an indicator of carrying around excess abdominal fat, is related to having an increased risk of death," she told WebMD.

Maintaining a healthy weight means keeping your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. Calculate yours here.

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