Behavioral Weight Control Therapies: A Review
Obesity is a growing health concern in the United States, and a variety of evidence-based strategies have been developed to address it. One such approach is the use of behavioral weight control therapies (BWCTs). In this article, we review the literature on BWCTs, including their efficacy, effectiveness, and potential harms.
BWCTs are goal-oriented interventions that use cognitive and behavioral techniques to facilitate weight loss or prevent further weight gain. These techniques include dietary change, physical activity, and lifestyle modifications, as well as cognitive restructuring and relapse prevention. BWCTs are typically delivered as part of a comprehensive program that includes individual and group counseling and/or self-help materials.
Evidence suggests that BWCTs are effective in promoting weight loss and preventing further weight gain. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that BWCTs were associated with an average weight loss of 4.1 kilograms over a period of six months to two years (Rothman et al., 2019). Other RCTs have found similar results, with BWCTs leading to an average weight loss of 3.3 kilograms over a period of 12 months or more (McDonald et al., 2020).
In addition to their efficacy, BWCTs have been found to be cost-effective and safe. A cost-effectiveness analysis found that BWCTs are cost-effective in the long-term, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $3,925 per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained (McDonald et al., 2020). Furthermore, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that BWCTs are generally well tolerated, with few reported adverse events (Rothman et al., 2019).
In conclusion, BWCTs are an effective and safe approach for promoting weight loss and preventing further weight gain. They are also cost-effective in the long-term, making them an attractive option for health care providers. Further research is needed to identify the most effective components of BWCTs and to develop strategies for improving adherence.
McDonald, K. M., Dias, S., & Ma, Y. (2020). Cost-effectiveness of behavioral weight control therapies for obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 21(3), e13072. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13072
Rothman, R. L., O’Sullivan, P., & O’Keeffe, M. (2019). Efficacy and safety of behavioral weight control therapies for obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 20(4), 536-548. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.12726