Weight Management Programs Look for These Criteria

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Nearly 8 million Americans enroll in some kind of structured weight-loss program each year. Choose a safe and helpful program that meets these criteria.

  • Physician participation—Consult a doctor if you have a health problem or it is necessary to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds.
  • Qualified staff—Registered dietitians can design a nutrition plan. Specialists in behavior modification and exercise are also recommended.
  • Nutritionally balanced diet—Any weight management plan should ensure adequate nutrition.
  • Exercise—At a minimum, there should be instructions for starting a safe exercise program.
  • Reasonable weight loss goals—Weight loss should be slow and steady. A 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week is a good start. A loss of 10 percent of starting weight is also a reasonable initial goal.
  • Help in changing lifestyle—Programs should help improve life-long eating and exercise habits. There should be opportunity for follow-up support—even after goals are reached.

achieved by cutting 500 calories each day from your usual food intake or by cutting 250 calories each day (such as one or two fewer cookies) and burning an additional 250 calories with exercise (such as by walking briskly for 30

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