A Review of Commercial and Proprietary Weight Loss Programs

  • Nasreen AlfarisEmail author
  • Alyssa Minnick
  • Patricia Hong
  • Thomas A. Wadden


More than two thirds of the US adult population is overweight or obese, and many individuals use commercial and proprietary programs to lose weight. Few high-quality studies have examined the efficacy of these programs. This chapter summarizes the results of three types of commercial programs, as assessed by randomized controlled trials (RCTs). These programs include: (1) traditional nonmedical programs (e.g., Weight Watchers®); (2) medically supervised, very-low-calorie-diet programs (e.g., HMR®); (3) remotely-delivered programs (e.g.,, Innergy™). This review found that two nonmedical programs, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, demonstrated long-term weight loss (i.e., at least 1 year). Medically supervised very low-calorie diet programs produced the largest weight losses observed; however, participants, on average, regained large amounts of weight. Remotely delivered programs show promise, but additional research is needed.


Obesity Weight loss Commercial programs Diet Low calorie Behavioral therapy Physical activity 



American Diabetes Association


Balanced deficit diet


Body Mass Index


Diabetes support and education


Diabetes self-management education


Health-care professionals


Health Management Resources


Low-calorie diets


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


National Institutes of Health


Practice-based opportunities for weight reduction


Randomized controlled trials


Type-2 diabetes


Very low-calorie diet


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nasreen Alfaris
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alyssa Minnick
    • 2
  • Patricia Hong
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Wadden
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Weight and Eating DisordersUniversity of Pennsylvania Perelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and PsychiatryUniversity of Pennsylvania Perelman School of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA

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