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April 29, 2008

Winning at weight loss takes team effort

Many overweight individuals try to lose those extra pounds on their own, instead of finding help that can teach them how to get and stay healthy. Interestingly, recent studies show that not only does the likelihood of being overweight increase among friends and family members, but also the opposite holds true.

When people joined a group based weight-loss program with friends and family, they lost more weight and kept it off better than those who joined the same program alone, according to research published in the Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology.

"Obesity isn't a problem that occurs in a vacuum," says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer of Weight Watchers International. "It should be no surprise, then, that the solution also doesn't occur in one either."

Whether simply working to lose weight and exercising with a friend, or attending group meetings through an organized weight loss program, people find better success with support, studies show. Witness the Weight Watchers phenomenon: those who attend meetings lose, on average, three times more weight than those who try to lose weight on their own, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Still not convinced that group support will work for you? Consider these tips when evaluating a weight loss support group.

Look for a group that offers nonjudgmental support. "Few of us respond well to pressure and embarrassment," says Liz Josefsberg, Weight Watchers Leader. Find a group, like Weight Watchers, where your progress is praised but not necessarily shared - unless you want it to be. "No one shouts out your weight or shares it with anyone but you," Josefsberg says. "And if you don't want to know it, we won't tell you either. We'll note it in the computer for later so you can track your progress."

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