A new British study designed to assess the effectiveness of a range of weight management programs has branded Weight Watchers a more effective and wallet-friendly weight loss strategy than family doctor-based services.

The research team studied the weight loss results of 740 obese and overweight men and women who participated in one of several different weight management programs. Three commercial programs were used – Weight Watchers, Slimming World, and Rosemary Conley – as well as a group-based program, a general practice with one-to-one counseling, and a pharmacy-led one-to-one counseling service. Some participants were given the option of choosing which program to follow, and a control group was given vouchers to use at an exercise facility but no weight loss plan. Progress was measured at the end of each 12-week program, as well as at the one-year mark.

Follow-up data was available for 88.9% (658) of participants at the study's end, and 70.5% (522) at one year. The good news is that all programs did achieve significant weight loss for the participants by the end of 12 weeks. The bad news is that the general practice and pharmacy provision did not result in significant weight loss at the end of one year. In fact, by the one-year mark, only the Weight Watchers group showed a significant amount of weight loss. After 12 weeks, those following the Weight Watches program had lost 3x the weight of those in the physician-supervised group. And after a year, they had lost an average of 5 pounds more than the control group.

In addition to differences in effectiveness, the programs also had marked differences in cost. The primary care programs were notably more expensive, though the commercial programs proved to garner better results for participants. HealthDay also pointed out that more people attended the Weight Watchers groups, while fewer participants regularly went to the primary care-based programs.

This study comes on the heels of another study that found Weight Watchers to be an effective weight management program. The one-year global study, published in the Lancet earlier this year, tested a group of 772 overweight and obese adults in Australia, Germany, and the UK. Participants in the commercial program group lost twice as much weight as those in the standard care group.

So if you're trying to decide what approach to weight loss is right for you, the moral of this story is: Weight Watchers appears to be a good choice for weight watchers.