Comparing weight loss options

 How much weight loss can obese people expect using various treatment options?

Dr. Peter Clifton who is Affiliate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide in Australia has complied a list.

Low-fat diets

  • Based on reducing dietary fat and caloric intake.
  • Weight loss of 3-4 kg (7-9 lb) at 3 years.
  • Limited long-term results.

Calorie-controlled diets

  • Low in calories but adequate proteins and major vitamins and minerals.
  • Outperforms low-fat diets
  • Weight losses of 6-7 kg (13-15 lb) at 4 years.
  • Very limited supporting data.

An initial very-low-calorie diet

  • Starting with 400 to 1000 calories per day.
  • Does not lead to greater weight loss than low-fat diets in the long term.

Meal replacements

  • Slim-Fast® for example.
  • Can lead to an 8 kg (18 lb) weight loss at 4 years based on a single uncontrolled study.

High-protein, low-carbohydrate (or very-low-carbohydrate) diets

  • Atkins® and others
  • Seem superior to high-carbohydrate diets, at least for up to 2 years.

Very-low-carbohydrate diets

  • Can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in some people.

Cognitive behavioral therapy + diet

  • Can facilitate approximately 5 kg (11 lb) additional weight loss.

Exercise + diet

  • Can facilitate an additional 1-1.5 kg (2-3 lb) weight loss.

Drug treatment, particularly sibutramine (Meridia) and rimonabant (Acomplia)

  • Can increase weight loss with a mildly low calorie diet by an additional 3-5 kg (7-11 lb).
  • Costly and have adverse effects.

Gastric banding

  • Surgery where a plastic band is placed around the upper stomach.
  • Weight loss of approximately 14% at 10 years.

Gastric bypass and gastroplasty

  • In gastric bypass, a thumb-sized stomach pouch is created using stapling to divide the stomach.
  • In gastroplasty, surgery of the stomach or lower esophagus decreases the size of the stomach.
  • Weight loss up to 25%

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery

  • Can reduce mortality and related diseases.
  • Adverse effects can include nutritional deficiencies and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The bottom line?
Of course, no guarantee is implied. You’re results may differ.

10/16/08 21:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.