Last month’s journal of the ADA (American Dietetic Association) had an interesting meta-analysis of weight-loss interventions. A meta-analysis pulls together a large number of studies that investigate the same thing, and try to pull stronger conclusions from them. This sort of study can be great to get an overall status of the literature on the primary outcomes of particular topic, but the strengths, weaknesses and bias and secondary outcomes of particular studies get washed out.

Get a better look at this chart & others in the pdf of the article, below.

The meta-analysis looked at outcomes from weight-loss clinical trials with a minimum of one-year follow-up. Eighty studies were included, representing eight interventions – diet alone, diet and exercise, exercise alone, meal replacement, very-low-energy diets, weight-loss medications (orlistat and sibutramine) and advice alone. A mean weight loss of 5 to 8.5 kg (that’s 11 to 18.7 lbs) was noted during the first 6 months from intervention involving a reduced-energy diet and/or weight-loss medications with weight plateaus at approximately 6 months. In studies extending to 48 months, a means 3 to 6 kg (6.6-13.2) of weight loss was maintained with every approach with the exception of advice-only and exercise-only, and none of the groups experiencing weight regain to baseline. In contrast, advice-only and exercise-alone groups experienced minimal weight loss. Very low calorie diets resulted in rapid loss and regain, with a gaining trend at the time when follow-up ended.

Annie’s thoughts: The biggest take-home message is that again we see that combining a weight-conscious diet with physical activity is the way to go if you are interested in long-term weight management. While the losses presented may not look to be much for the effort, keep in mind that for those who are overweight or obese, even moderate weight loss can result in significant reductions in chronic disease. Meal replacements and very low calorie diets seem to be short-term solutions. As far as the weight-loss drug outcomes, orlistat (a drug that blocks the absorption of fat), and sibutamine (an appetite suppressant) both have pretty significant and unpleasant side effects. I want to take a closer look at the diet drug studies to see who sponsored those particular studies, what side effects were tolerated for the extra pound or two of loss and what happened over the longer term.

Here’s a copy of the article:
Article – Comparison of Interventions

All the best –

Annie BK