Here’s the secret to successful weight loss: food diaries and the buddy system. In a study comparing weight-loss programs, dieters using Weight Watchers, which incorporates both of these approaches, were more successful at shedding pounds than those relying on clinical programs with professional diet experts.
In the study, researchers from Baruch College in New York City randomly assigned 141 overweight individuals to one of three diet strategies: Weight Watchers, a weight-loss program led by a health professional or a combination of the two.
After nearly a year, the Weight Watchers group lost an average of just over 13 lb., compared with 12 lb. among those led by a health professional and 8 lb. among the group using a combination of behavioral weight-loss strategies and Weight Watchers. While the scientists expected the hybrid group to be the most successful in losing weight, nearly 37% of those on Weight Watchers lost at least 10% of their starting weight, compared with 11% of those in the professionally led group and 15% of those in the hybrid group.
What made the difference? The researchers say Weight Watchers’ daily food tracking helps dieters remain accountable for what they eat and helps them limit their consumption over longer periods of time. That idea is supported by other studies showing that, for example, women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 lb. more than those who did not.