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Nondiet Programs and Support Groups for Healthy Weight Loss

9 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Healthy Weight Loss

Often, dieters must face why they eat the way that they do. If you could use some peer support while trying to lose weight — but don’t require a regimented diet plan or the services of program-provided weight loss professionals — one of the following organizations may be your best choice.

  • The Solution: The focus of the program is on developing internal skills of self-nurturing and setting limits to achieve balance and freedom from excess. There is a diet plan based on government recommendations and recommendations for exercise. The program includes community and professional support.

    Staff: Most providers are mental health professionals or registered dietitians; all are “Solution Certified” meaning that they have completed and passed special training classes. The program delivery team consists of registered dietitians and licensed mental health professionals (psychologists, family therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists).

    Comments: During the maintenance program, clients can return for 12-week sessions at any time. Every three months, a Saturday afternoon maintenance session for all program graduates is held.

    Availability: Course work is done in group meetings and coaching sessions, though the workbooks can be purchased and used privately. One hundred fifty groups meet all over the United States. The program also offers Telegroups and Telecoaching through video-conferencing centers.

    Contact: The Institute for Health Solutions 1623A Fifth Avenue San Rafael, CA 415-457-3331.

  • Overeaters Anonymous (OA): Overeaters Anonymous is based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The group recommends emotional, spiritual, and physical recovery changes. It makes no exercise or food recommendations.

    Staff: Volunteer group leaders who meet specific criteria run the meetings. No healthcare providers are on staff.

    Availability: Groups meet in more than 50 countries in churches, hospitals, and rehab centers.

    Contact: World Service Office (WSO) 6075 Zenith Court NE Rio Rancho, NM 87124505-891-2664

  • TOPS Club, Inc. (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly): The desire to change comes from within; a supporting environment provides the most effective way to sustain change. The group doesn’t impose or set weight loss goals other than the ones you bring to the group. The group encourages you to remain a part of TOPS as long as you need support.

    Staff: Each chapter is lead by a volunteer leader. A nine-member board of directors administers the program, and a field staff of regional directors, coordinators, and area captains supports the volunteer chapter leaders.

    Availability: Two hundred and thirty thousand members meet weekly in 10,300 chapters in the United States, Canada, and around the world. Online membership is available.

    Contact: TOPS Club, Inc.4575 South Fifth Street Milwaukee, WI 53207 800-932-8677

  • Overcoming Overeating (OO): The belief is that dieting hasn’t solved weight problems but caused compulsive overeating. Change comes from self-acceptance and weight acceptance.

    Staff: Codirectors Jane R. Hirschmann, MSW, a psychotherapist, and Carol H. Munter, a psychoanalyst, are specialists in eating disorders. Trained social workers or psychologists run programs located outside of New York City.

    Availability: Centers are located in New York, Chicago, and New England. A referral list by state of therapist and support groups is posted on their Web site. Online e-mail chat groups are ongoing and online chat relays are frequently scheduled.

    Contact: National Center for Overcoming Overeating P.O. Box 1257 Old Chelsea Station New York, NY 10113-0920212-875-0442

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