Weight Watchers the major weight loss company have reported a 47% plunge in profit to $30.8m (£18.4m) in 2013 according to the BBC news website. Weight watchers claim this is because it has been hard hit by competition from weight loss apps. But does this really sound likely or does it disguise a different underlying cause?
Weight loss regimes that don’t work
Weight Watchers now joins a whole group of diet plans that don’t work, not that this is news in itself. What is news, however, is the fact that perhaps the public have finally come to realise this themselves. The exposes of the diet industry on television can’t have helped; to have your former financial director admit that the business is founded on its clients continually failing isn’t great publicity. There may also be an element of saturation point being reached. What I mean by this is the people who have now joined and re-joined Weight Watchers have finally cottoned on to the fact that this isn’t working for them. If you look at the success rate of any dietary regime you care to mention you will find that the long-term weight loss on these programmes is very poor. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlighted how ineffective most dietary regimes are. What was striking about this research was that this was the case regardless of which macronutrient was manipulated. So we are at a point where even the scientific community accepts that specific dietary plans/programmes are possibly not the best way to go about weight loss.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, looked at the success of the Weight Watchers programme over five years. Dr Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at Oxford University, has analysed these data. He found that after two years approximately 20% had managed to keep the weight off, but that goes down to 16% after five years. He makes the point that these are the most successful members across the company and that the majority of people on the programme do not obtain their long-term goal weight. Dr Heneghan makes one very profound statement that sums up the situation perfectly “After 40 years of diet programmes when are people going to wake up and say this is not the answer?"
Weight loss drugs are not the answer either
Weight loss drugs are not likely to be the answer in the near future either. Two drugs approved the FDA in the US (lorcaserin hydrochloride (Belviq; Eisai Inc) and phentermine/topiramate (Qsymia; Vivus Inc)) have failed to gain European approval due to serious concerns about the side effects. These side effects include warnings about memory, attention or language problems and depression. What is more the trials for both drugs could not exclude important cardiovascular harms. The European Medicines Agency reported that it was unlikely to approve lorcaserin because of concerns about possible cancers, psychiatric disorders and heart valve problems. So if you are waiting for a magic bullet there is a fair chance your weight gain will kill you before any drug is available.
The only viable answer we currently have is to make a lifestyle change. This might not be sexy or a quick fix but it does work and most importantly it is a safe way to lose weight with many accepted health benefits. The LEAN Man System (Lifestyle Education for Activity and Nutrition) helps clients make those lifestyle changes. If you would like more nutrition and weight loss tips then simply complete the simple form below and receive seven FREE videos.