The longer people use Weight Watchers, the better they fare. A UK study found people completing one year of Weight Watchers lost more weight than those completing three months.
Published in The Lancet, this study compared the impact of short- and long-term participation in Weight Watchers on both weight loss and cost. The goal was to see whether one year of weight loss programming is more effective than the recommended minimum of three months—potentially optimizing weight loss and saving money in the long run.
The study was conducted from 2012–2014 at three research centers in the UK, including the University of Liverpool, the University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research. It included 1,267 overweight and obese adults that were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The groups included either three months or one year of Weight Watchers, or information only. Those receiving information only received brief advice on weight loss along with self-help materials, while those on Weight Watchers received free vouchers for weekly Weight Watchers meetings.
After one year, researchers found that participants on Weight Watchers lost significantly more weight than those receiving education only. However, those completing one year of Weight Watchers lost an average of five pounds more than those completing three months. These differences remained after two years, suggesting that they were able to keep the weight off over time.
As authors anticipated, the one-year program was more costly than the three-month program. However, projections suggest that over a 25-year period, the one-year program ends up being more cost effective than the shorter program.
What this program shows, according to authors, is that open-group weight loss programs like Weight Watchers work. Not only are they more cost-effective than one-on-one weight loss programs, they help people lose weight and keep it off. Based on findings, investing in longer programs may save money in the end by maximizing weight loss and promoting better health.