Group support of a structured diet is a winning strategy.
Obesity is at epidemic levels in the United States and becoming an increasing problem worldwide. You can easily see the problem with a short trip to your local shopping center or grocery store. Five to ten years ago, you only saw the elderly use motorized carts to shop. Increasingly, I am seeing more and more young folks that are morbidly obese using them to shop. Almost everyone with a weight problem has been searching for the key to successful weight loss. The one thing that is certain is that exercise and group support are vital to long-term success in weight loss.
A 2012 study looked for data that included 4021 obese adults from the 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NANES) and tried to determine which interventions made the biggest impact on weight loss. The researchers actually defined meaningful weight loss as a loss of 10% of body weight. Of the NANES subjects, 140% lost 5% of their body weight and 20% achieved a 10% loss. This study found that obese adults were more likely to achieve meaningful weight loss if they ate less fat, exercised more, used prescription weight-loss medications, or participated in commercial weight-loss programs. The researchers also noted that eating special diet products such as liquid diets, over-the-counter diet pills, and fad diets were not linked with weight loss, and eating special diet products made patients less likely to lose 10% of their body weight. This result is contrary to many of the claims of the manufacturers and retailers of such products.
I personally have found liquid and commercially available weight-loss food products to be less satisfying than whole foods made fresh at home. Consider food prepping ahead of time to save time during the week. The taste of foods cooked at home seems to be more satisfying to me. Dieters may overeat these special diet products because they perceive them to be low in calories or maybe they eat more because they are less satisfying. And even though being in a structured weight-loss program may include eating specially prepared foods, the findings suggest that the structure could be more important to weight-loss success.
The bottom line: You should discuss your options with your primary care provider (PCP). Consider a commercial weight loss program. If you cannot afford a structured program, consider an online support group to help you form a structured diet to maximize your success. It is easier to stick with a weight loss plan when you have support and share tips on diet and exercise. Other options are an informal commercial program such as Weight Watchers, clinic-based weight loss programs, and social support programs such as TOPS.
Nicklas, Jacinda M., Karen W. Huskey, Roger B. Davis, and Christina C. Wee. “Successful Weight Loss Among Obese U.S. Adults.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Elsevier BV, May 2012. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.01.005