Study Finds Free Weight Loss Programs Successful

New studies that look at how we diet with exercise and without, as well as the effectiveness of the Jenny Craig weight loss program.

According to msnbc.com, two new studies are being published which look at diet and exercise programs that aim to modify behavior in order to train participants to exercise and make healthy diet choices. Weight has become a real problem in America with more than a quarter of all Americans ranking as obese. Drug manufacturers have been attempting to make a magic pill to help, but they come with health risks, some of which are dangerous. One of those pills, Meridia, was pulled from the market by the manufacturer at the FDA's request on Friday after studies showed that it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with a history of heart disease.

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After pills, the options are diet and exercise program or bariatric surgery - which is followed by a diet and exercise program. The two studies, published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association examined two different weight loss paths. One looked at whether it was best to begin a lifestyle change by combining diet and exercise right away or to begin dieting and then adding exercise later. That study looked at 130 obese adults and divided them into 2 groups. The first began dieting and exercising right away and the other began dieting and added exercise after 6 months. At the end of the year, the group who had held off exercise lost around 22 lbs while the group that began working out right away lost 27 lbs.

The second study looked at the Jenny Craig diet program and compared it to traditional care programs. 442 overweight and obese women were divided into 3 groups. One group went to classes at a weight loss center. Another got weekly weight loss counseling by phone and both got free food from Jenny Craig. The third group had 2 weight loss counseling sessions and monthly contact with a dietician. After 2 years, more than half of the women in the groups that received free meals had lost at least 5% of their original body weight, while only 29% of the third group had that result.

According to msnbc.com, Rena Wing of Brown University said the results "raise the possibility that if structured commercial weight-loss programs could be provided free of charge to participants, both retention and average weight-loss outcomes might be far better." Insurance companies rarely cover the cost of commercial weight loss programs and Jenny Craig costs $1600 for 12 weeks of counseling and food. To continue Jenny Craig for 2 years, it would cost around $13,800 but bariatric surgery - which insurance companies often cover - costs an estimated $19,000 to $29,000.