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October 1974

Effectiveness of a Self-Help Group in Obesity Control: A Further Assessment

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia General Hospital, Philadelphia. Dr. Garb is now at the Springfield General Hospital, Springfield, Mass, and Dr. Stunkard is at the Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, Calif.

Arch Intern Med. 1974;134(4):716-720. doi:10.1001/archinte.1974.00320220118015

Twenty-one local chapters of a nationwide self-help group for the control of obesity were studied in 1968 and again in 1970. Mean weight loss of individual members in the two surveys was remarkably similar-15.0 and 14.2 lb. Attrition rates were very high—47% at one year and 70% at two. Initial degree of overweight was strongly associated with duration of membership in this program; the more overweight members not only had lower attrition rates, they also lost more weight. Within individual chapters, there was a very large variance in mean weight loss, and chapters did not seem to maintain the same level of effectiveness during the two-year period. Introduction of behavior modification techniques is a possible method of improving the group's performance.

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