Cheryl Rock of University of California, San Diego, Moore's Cancer Center in La Jolla, Calif., says these programs offer an effective route for achieving and maintaining weight loss.
Rock and colleagues randomly assigned 442 overweight or obese women ages 18-65 into one of two intervention programs or usual care -- 167 in a center-based intervention, 164 in a telephone-based program and 111 into "usual care."
Both intervention groups included free, prepared meals, one-to-one weight loss counseling and 30 minutes of daily exercise. The "usual care" group received two individualized weight loss counseling sessions and monthly contacts. All participants received $25 for each completed clinic visit.
The controlled, randomized trial, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found average weight losses to be 16 pounds for the center-based women, 14 pounds for the phone-based group and 4.5 pounds for usual care.
"For clinical practitioners, the evidence suggests that the structured program as applied in this study provides another route for their overweight and obese patients to achieve and maintain weight loss through behavioral changes for at least a two-year period," the authors say in a statement.