[Skip to Navigation]
October 27, 2010

Treatment Options for Obesity: Do Commercial Weight Loss Programs Have a Role?

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; and Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island.

JAMA. 2010;304(16):1837-1838. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1529

With the rapid rise in the prevalence of obesity, there has been increased effort to develop ways to prevent weight gain. However, there is also a critical need to identify effective treatment approaches for the 68% of US adults who are currently overweight (body mass index [BMI] >25) or obese (BMI >30).1 Despite the proliferation of numerous commercial products, diets, services, and programs marketed and promoted as achieving significant weight loss, to date, few rigorous studies have evaluated commercial weight loss programs. Consequently, little is known about the results that the average overweight or obese participant can expect to achieve in these programs. In 1995, the Institute of Medicine encouraged consumers to consider the safety of the weight loss program, the match between their needs and the program, and the outcomes achieved in the program.2 However, consumers have few reliable data to use in making decisions about these services and programs.