Comparison of a commercial weight loss program to traditional exercise
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] To compare the effectiveness of a popular commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers (WW) to a traditional exercise program (TE) for weight loss and body composition. A secondary purpose was to investigate changes in blood chemistry and blood pressure. Forty-three overweight (BMI [greater than or equal to] 25) and sedentary women received a 12 week membership to either WW or TE. Subjects in WW were instructed to follow the dietary and exercise recommendations of the program, which generally included weekly weigh-ins, counseling sessions, and a point counting system to monitor calories. Subjects assigned to TE were instructed to follow the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for weight loss which included both aerobic and anaerobic exercise a minimum of three times weekly. Outcomes included body weight (BW), body fat percentage (%BF) measured via skinfolds and the BOD POD, intraabdominal fat (IAF) and subcutaneous abdominal fat (SAF) measured via computed tomography, total cholesterol (TC), HDL cholesterol with subfractions (HDL-C, HDL2-C, HDL3-C), triglycerides (TG), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). BW decreased significantly for WW (P [lesser than] 0.001) but not for TE (P = 0.055). %BF by BOD POD was not significantly different for either group at 12 weeks. Both groups lost a significant amount of IAF (P<0.05) but no between group differences existed. SAF decreased significantly for WW (P [lesser than] 0.001) but not for TE. There were no significant differences found within or between groups for any lipoprotein measurement. SBP and DBP decreased significantly for both groups (P [lesser than] 0.05) but no between groups differences existed. Although the WW group lost a significant amount of BW by week 12, %BF by BOD POD did not improve indicating a large loss of lean tissue. It is likely the TE group did not perform the volume of exercise necessary to elicit body composition changes.
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