Do Online Weight Loss Programs Work?

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Most people have heard of Weight Watchers and various other weight loss support groups where people go for help losing weight. But these days people who want to lose weight don’t have to leave the comfort of their home to get weight loss guidance and support. They can join an online weight loss program. These programs are rapidly growing in popularity, because they help members establish their weight loss goals, learn healthier eating habits, track their weight loss progress and get emotional support. Some even offer meal plans, workout videos and access to a personalized trainer. But do they work?

Do Online Weight Loss Programs Work?

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, online weight loss programs can successfully help overweight people lose weight. Surprisingly, they even offer benefits that in-person weight loss support programs don’t. Researchers followed participants who joined an online program to lose weight and compared them to those who enrolled in a traditional weight loss program. The results? Web-based dieters lost twice as much weight over a year’s time as their comrades who joined traditional weight loss support programs.

According to another study published in the journal Obesity Research, online programs are effective for maintaining weight loss too. This is consistent with other research that shows online weight loss programs help dieters reach their weight loss goals and maintain them. Even Weight Watcher’s is jumping on the cyber-bandwagon. They now offer online weight loss counseling.

Why Are Online Weight Loss Plans So Effective?

Online or tracking weight loss progress as well as the support of other members through forums.

Online weight loss programs let their members be as anonymous as they want to be. Participants don’t have to show up and participate in meetings as with some traditional programs. Some people are self-conscious about their weight and don’t want to attend group meetings or weigh themselves in front of others. Online weight loss programs offer structure and support without exposing members to the scrutiny of other people.

Generally, people have more success losing weight when they have access to personalized meal plans, workouts and weight loss tools and the support of a weight loss counselor. Online weight loss programs offer all of these benefits at a reasonable price.

Online weight loss programs aren’t for everyone. Some people are able to successfully structure their own plan for weight loss and stick with it and don’t need the assistance that cyberdieting provides. Others require more support than an online program can offer. They do best in a more traditional weight loss program where they can meet with counselors in person. Either way, online weight loss programs are here to stay, and they appear to work.


Idea Fitness Journal. “How Effective is Cyberdieting?” JAMA. 299 (10): 1139-48.


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