How commercial weight loss programs compare

Direct comparisons of commercial weight-loss programs on weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure:  a systemic review

This study was originally published in BioMed Central on June 1,2016.


Obesity is common in the U.S. and many individuals turn to commercial programs to lose weight. Our objective was to directly compare weight loss, waist circumference, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP, DBP) outcomes between commercially available weight-loss programs.


We conducted a systematic review by searching MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from inception to November 2014 and by using references identified by commercial programs. We included randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) of at least 12 weeks duration that reported comparisons with other commercial weight-loss programs. Two reviewers extracted information on mean change in weight, waist circumference, SBP and DBP and assessed risk of bias.


We included seven articles representing three RCTs. Curves participants lost 1.8 kg (95%CI: 0.1, 3.5 kg) more than Weight Watchers in one comparison. There was no statistically significant difference in waist circumference change among the included programs. The mean reduction in SBP for SlimFast participants was 4.5 mmHg (95%CI: 0.4, 8.6 mmHg) more than that of Atkins participants in one comparison. There was no significant difference in mean DBP changes among programs.


There is limited evidence that any one of the commercial weight-loss programs has superior results for mean weight change, mean waist circumference change, or mean blood pressure change.


  • Ruchi S. Doshi,
  • Ambereen K. Mehta,
  • Zoobia W. Chaudhry,
  • David K. Jacobs,
  • Clare J. Lee,
  • Sara N. Bleich,
  • Jeanne M. Clark and
  • Kimberly A. GudzuneEmail author
BMC Public HealthBMC series – open, inclusive and trusted 201616:460

DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-3112-z