Thousands of books, websites, videos, clubs, etc. provide advice on losing weight.
Weight loss programmes
Weight loss programmes are usually based on providing support to motivate people to stick to their chosen weight loss plan over the long term.
This can come in the form of regular meetings, self-help manuals, support groups, online guidance, newsletters, or regular contact of other kind. Most weight loss programmes also have their own diet recommendations.
Research has shown that this kind of support can help some people to lose weight and maintain the weight loss.
Weight Concern believes that weight loss programmes should give advice which is scientifically valid, that the programme leaders should be appropriately trained, that the dietary recommendations should be healthy, and that the organisation should not exploit people.
Diets range from the sensible to the crazy. As a rule of thumb, the crazier they are the more elaborate their theories. If they work at all, it is by keeping energy intake below energy expenditure.
Weight Concern believes the important differences between diets are:
Weight Concern recommends that if you want to follow a diet, you should:
Be very cautious of following any dietary advice that steers you away from a healthy diet, except with medical advice.
Meal replacement programmes
Meal replacement programmes have been around for a long time. They range from portion-controlled, calorie-counted ready-meals to very low calorie drinks to replace meals.
There is no doubt that some people find this an easier way to achieve a negative energy balance, but the return to normal eating without putting the weight back on can be very difficult.
Weight Concern believes that meal replacement programmes have a role to play but they do not suit everyone.
No-one should follow a very low calorie meal replacement programme without professional advice. Support for normal healthy eating after the end of the programme is important.
* Some information on this page has been produced with the kind permission of the British Heart Foundation, which is the joint copyright owner with Weight Concern