Weight-loss programs, such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, seem to be more successful in getting the overweight to shed pounds than any doctor’s advice. A recent study published in the medical journal “The Lancet” found that when doctors referred patients to a paid commercial weight loss program versus sticking with the doctor’s prescribed plan, they lost twice as much weight.
This weight-loss news is significant for our country’s bottom line, too. Another study out of Emory University estimates that Medicare could save billions if the folks who are at high risk for heart disease and/or pre-diabetic lost weight and adopted healthier lifestyle habits. The Emory study used an existing program that was set up at the YMCA to lower diabetes risk, which involves nutrition and exercise classes to help shed body fat. They found that if 70 percent of people 60 to 64 year-olds with a BMI of 24 or greater enrolled in the YMCA program, the program would cost $590 million. But it would still be a net savings of $2.3 billion to Medicare over 10 years and a net lifetime savings of $9.3 billion in obesity-related healthcare costs. Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat.
So why are the programs successful? Group weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers let you mingle with like-minded people while keeping you accountable for your progress. The idea that someone will check up on you for a weekly weigh-in and a group of peers sees your results helps people stay committed to the program.
Exercise is also key to keeping healthy. So how to get people moving? If you want to nudge someone into being more physically active, take note that “cognitive strategies,” such as offering words of encouragement over the telephone or by email may not get the job done. You’re better off getting up close and personal to say “Exercise, already!” to a couch-potato family member or friend. And perhaps the best way of all is to exercise with them. Make workout dates instead of coffee or lunch dates; hold each other accountable for your fitness goals.
For more on weight-loss tips, check out our article on Celebrity Weight-Loss Success Tips.