Following a commercial diet plan is 50% more beneficial for weight loss than going it alone, latest research suggests.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus believe that following a professional weight loss programme is the best way to live a healthy life.

Author Dr Lesley Lutes, Director of UBC’s Centre for Obesity and Well-Being Research Excellence, said: “Given the prevalence of obesity, accessible and effective treatment options are needed to manage obesity and its comorbid conditions including heart disease and pre-diabetes.

“Evidence-based commercial weight management programs are a potential solution to the lack of available treatment and considerably cheaper than a clinic-based approach.”

Most of the time, healthcare professionals are unable to refer people onto commercial weight loss programmes due to the majority of them not being officially approved.

According to the study, only six commercial weight loss plans have passed the United States Preventive Services Taskforce criteria.

Dr Lutes said: “Essentially, obesity care needs to move beyond the simplistic approached of ‘eat less, move more’. To be successful it must address the root drivers of obesity.”

Around 370 adults took part in the study – with half of the participants following a commercial weight loss plan and the other half following their own diet programme.

Those following their own diet adopted traditional weight-loss strategies, such as calorie counting, healthy eating and exercising.

Meanwhile, the participants in the commercial weight-loss group took part in regular workshops and were given exclusive access to a weight management app.

Dr Lutes added: “One of the features of the commercial program used in this study was that self-monitoring was simplified to be less burdensome.

“Participants did not need to weigh, measure or track more than 200 foods, simplifying the process as much as possible.”

The team of academics found that the participants following a commercial programme lost double the amount of weight than those following traditional diet plans.

In addition, they detected better blood pressure, heart rate, aerobic stamina and sleeping patterns in all of the participants.

Dr Lutes concluded: “This information can help me advocate the government about one of the many ways they can support people in our province to improve health and wellbeing.

“Perhaps our leaders can think about subsidising access to commercial weight-loss programmes that are proven effective. It could be a major step in helping achieve desperately needed improved health outcomes.”

The study can now be accessed in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open.

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