Behavioral changes can have a significant impact, in contrast to increasingly popular surgical interventions, to help the obese lose weight, two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association show.
Both studies, used pre-packaged meals as part of their evaluations, and offered financial incentives to those participating. One study conducted a two-year trial of weight loss and maintenance among 442 overweight or obese women aged 18 to 69.
Their Body Mass Index — a measure of body fat based on height and weight — was 25 or higher. Normal BMI ranges are typically 18.5-24.9. By the end of the study, more than half of the participants had at least five percent weight loss, compared to 29 percent for the control group.
“Findings from this study suggest that this incentivised structured weight loss program with free prepared meals can effectively promote weight loss compared with usual care group,” the authors said. Participants received 25 dollars every time they visited the clinic.
The second, intensive one-year study led by Bret Goodpaster of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, reached similar conclusions. It evaluated 130 severely obese people without diabetes, randomly assigning them to either a group that dieted and exercised for all 12 months, or another, with the same dietary intervention but with physical activity delayed for six months.
“Intensive lifestyle interventions with a behavior-based approach can result in meaningful weight loss and improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors in severely obese persons,” it concluded, urging patients to incorporate exercise early in any weight loss programme.