A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Group versus Individual Treatments for Adult Obesity

V A Paul-Ebhohimhen, Alison Avenell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Both group and individual modes of delivery are employed for obesity treatments. Commercial weight loss groups commonly employ group-based delivery, while many clinical based settings employ one-to-one delivery. We systematically reviewed randomised controlled trials of treatments for adult obesity to compare the effectiveness of group-based to individual-based modes of treatment delivery. Methods: We searched 7 electronic databases and 2 journals and reviewed secondary references, based on a priori criteria to systematically review: randomised controlled trials of obesity treatments, participants with BMI >= 28 kg/m(2), age >= 18 years, comparison groups including at least 1 group-based and 1 individual-based treatment group, and follow-up >= 1 year. We extracted data and conducted meta-analysis of weight change. Results: Eleven comparison groups from 5 qualifying trials were obtained, representing a total participant pool of 336. Significantly greater (p = 0.03) weight change at 12 months was found in group-based over individual-based treatment, and sub-analyses showed that increased effectiveness was associated with the use of financial reward and psychologist-led interventions. Conclusion: Group-based interventions were more effective than individual-based interventions among a predominantly female participant pool receiving psychologist-led interventions. Future studies to explore differences by professional group and interventions among men, which are accompanied by economic evaluation, are recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalObesity Facts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009


  • obesity
  • group versus individual
  • randomised controlled trials
  • weigh-loss
  • follow-up
  • technical skills
  • randomized-trial
  • behavior-therapy
  • participants
  • maintenance
  • health
  • size


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