We systematically reviewed the randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence for long-term (≥12 months) weight management interventions for obese men in contrast to women to help understand whether programmes should be designed differently for men.
We searched 11 databases up to October 2014. Twenty-two RCTs reported data separately for men and women in weight loss or weight maintenance interventions.
We found men were under-represented in RCTs of weight loss interventions open to both sexes. Men comprised 36% of participants (4771 from 13,305 participants). Despite this, men were 11% (95% CI 8–14%, p < 0.001) more likely to be trial completers compared to women. The trials did not report service user consultation and none were designed to investigate whether men and women responded differently to given interventions. Our meta-analysis of 13 trials showed no significant difference in weight loss between men and women, either for weight loss in kg (p = 0.90) or percentage weight loss (p = 0.78), although men tended to lose more weight with intensive low fat reducing diets, with or without meal replacements, and structured physical activity/exercise programmes than women. Orlistat was less beneficial for men for weight maintenance. Individual support and tailoring appeared more helpful for men than women.
We found evidence that men and women respond differently to, and have different preferences for, varying types of weight management programme. We suggest that it is important to understand men's views on weight loss, as this is likely to also improve the uptake and effectiveness of programmes for men.
- weight loss
- weight maintenance
- men and women
- systematic review