Weight Watchers is a more effective way to lose weight than going to the doctor's office for a standard weight-loss plan, a new study suggests.

Weight Watchers International funded the study but the research was conducted independently, Reuters reported.

Dr. Susan Jebb of the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research Unit led the study.

The study involved giving 772 patients either a free, year-long Weight Watchers membership or having them go to a primary care team for advice on weight loss and health, the UKPA reported.

Researchers studied overweight and obese patients from Australia, Britain and Germany, Reuters reported.

Those who chose Weight Watchers lost an average of 11 pounds and four ounces, and those who chose to go to the doctor lost four pounds and thirteen ounces, the UKPA reported.

Data from our study suggest that referral by a primary health-care professional to a commercial weight loss programme that provides regular weighing, advice about diet and physical activity, motivation, and group support, can offer a clinically useful early intervention for weight management in overweight and obese people that can be delivered at large scale, the study's authors wrote, the UKPA reported. Further research is needed to examine long-term weight loss maintenance, together with a formal analysis of cost-effectiveness.

The study was published in the medical journal The Lancet.