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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(7):1328

Clinical Question: Do weight loss interventions improve health-related quality of life?

Setting: Outpatient (any)

Study Design: Systematic review

Synopsis: For this review, the authors systematically searched several databases. However, they excluded research not published in English and did not describe any attempts to find unpublished studies. After obtaining the initial articles, the authors applied exclusion criteria (i.e., studies of children or pregnant women) and were left with a few hundred studies. The authors then read the abstracts to exclude nonrandomized studies and those that did not address quality of life, leaving 34 eligible trials.

The authors independently extracted the data and assessed the quality of the studies. In general, the studies had several methodologic shortcomings that typically biased the findings in favor of the intervention. The included trials were six weeks to two years in duration and evaluated a variety of interventions (e.g., medications, surgeries, behavior modifications). Only nine of the 34 studies showed improvement in general health-related quality of life. There was no overall effect on depression.

Bottom Line: Based on existing research, weight loss interventions have little effect on health-related quality of life. The overall quality of the existing research, however, is poor. (Level of Evidence: 1a)

POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by Essential Evidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.

For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.

To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, editor-in-chief.

A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.

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Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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