Weight Watchers really works

Caroline Cassidy

Slimmers around the world are constantly trying out different diets and weight loss plans but one weight loss system that has been around for over forty years has just been proven to be so successful that it may soon be prescribed to obese patients through the NHS.

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A recent study carried out by the Medical Research Council, and paid for by Weight Watchers, found that slimmers who attended Weight Watchers meetings for a 12-week course lost more weight and kept it off than those who only went to their GP for help.

Dr Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health research at the MRC, who led the study, warned in 2007 that by the year 2050 more than half Britain's population would be obese.

Speaking about Weight Watchers, Dr Jebb said: "Our conclusion is that it works. It is incredibly encouraging. It seems this is an effective way to lose weight, it's also very reproducible. It's the standard package that works - not individual group leaders. Support is the key."

The study assessed the weight loss of 30,000 people who attended a 12-week Weight Watchers course and people who were only aided by their GP over a substantial period of time.

The average weight loss of people who were sent to Weight Watchers was 6lb, even if they didn't complete the course. But of the 58 per cent who did complete, the average weight loss was 11lb.

Those who stayed with Weight Watchers for one year lost an average of 15lb while those who only had help from the GP lost 8lb.

Weight Watchers' dietician Zoe Hellman said: "One of the key things is having support and motivation. Healthy eating, getting active, helping people change their behaviour- but it is all in the context of group support."

But if you're concerned about the stories of a public weekly weigh-in, have no fear: these do not really exist.

Ms Hellman explained: "One of the things people bring up is the Little Britain sketch where they weigh people publicly and ring bells and talk about their weight. It couldn't be further from the truth.

"Only you and your group leader see what the scales say."

Do you think that being referred to Weight Watchers by your GP would help you achieve your weight loss goals? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.