The 7 Best Weight Loss Support Groups of 2020

Find people who can help you when you're slimming down

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

"WW also offers a digital support community via WW Connect, where members share photos, tips, recipes, and more."

Most Cost-Effective Group: TOPS

"If you opted into participating, there was a 79% completion rate through the year-long study, and more than 33% of participants lost weight."

Best for Tech-Lovers: Omada

"You’re provided with remote, behavioral change counseling, access to a health coach, a "smart scale.""

Best for Weight Loss Surgery: Bariatric Surgery Support Groups

"Because bariatric surgery requires such a major, post-operative diet change, you’ll find more tailored support at these meetings."

Best Web Support Group: MyFitnessPal

"There’s forums available for recipe ideas, challenges, success stories, and more."

Best Social Media Support: Facebook Groups

"If you and a few friends are all trying to lose weight at the same time, having a private, online space to share experiences is motivating."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: WW (formerly Weight Watchers)

WW

WW

Probably one of the most well-known weight loss support groups, WW has been a staple in weight loss services since the 1960s. 

This commercial program uses a proprietary “points system,” assigning members a number of points to eat each day and giving each food a certain points' value. While the formula for calculating the value of a particular food is not clear, it appears WW uses calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber to assign such.

Where WW really excels, though, is offering multiple community touchpoints to help their members achieve success. Their in-person workshops (formerly called meetings) give you the chance to weigh-in privately, followed by a group learning experience. 

The guide helps facilitate the conversation and provides weight loss tips. But even more valuable, perhaps, is hearing from other members. These individuals might have struggled with similar obstacles, and can share the ways they overcame them.

WW also offers a digital support community via WW Connect, where members share photos, tips, recipes, and more. This helps bridge the gap between the in-person group meetings, so you always have support at your fingertips.

Some research studies support the efficacy of Weight Watchers. A 2015 systematic review found that compared to control groups, Weight Watchers participants lost about 2.6% more weight on average after a year.

Pricing varies based on current promotions, but generally starts at around $13 per month for digital access only, or about $28 per month for weekly workshops with digital access.

Most Cost-Effective Group: TOPS

TOPS

TOPS

Described as a “hands-on, pounds-off” approach to weight loss, TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) is a noncommercial, nonprofit, weight loss support organization. Upon joining, you’re provided with resources like recipes and fitness guides, along with weekly meetings that you can attend for accountability.

TOPS meetings are offered both in-person and virtually, providing flexibility for you to choose the format that appeals most. In-person meetings begin with a private weigh-in, followed by 30 to 60 minutes of time for the group to discuss challenges and learn tips about health and wellness topics.

Virtual meetings are available twice a week via live chatroom. You can share your progress and discuss challenges, and an online moderator will share TOPS programming. Occasionally, webinars from guest experts are also presented. There is a Facebook group for members to continue to stay connected online between virtual meetings.

You won’t find fad diet plans within TOPS; instead, they recommend following MyPlate, the Canadian Food Guide, or a Food Exchange System.

Two research studies support TOPS as a tool in weight management. A study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that participants who continued to use TOPS over subsequent years (after their initial year) were likely to see sustained weight loss. Those who renewed after one year had an average weight loss of 6% of their initial weight, while those who continued renewing for seven consecutive years were able to keep off 8% of their initial weight. 

The second study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that TOPS integrated well into community programming for older African American women. For those that opted into participating, there was a 79% completion rate through the year-long study, and 33% of participants lost more than 5% of their initial weight. 

The biggest appeal to TOPS is the inexpensive cost. To join, you’ll pay about $32 per year to the national TOPS organization. Plus, local chapter dues are around $5 a month, adding up to a total yearly cost of approximately $100.

Best for Tech-Lovers: Omada

Omada

Omada

Omada combined technology, data, and human support into a nifty, digital, behavioral medicine company. In their program, you’re provided with remote, behavioral change counseling, access to a health coach, a “smart scale” for regular weigh-ins that are linked to your own profile, and an online peer support group.

Once you are accepted into an Omada program, you’ll be set up with your support group within a couple of weeks. Your community will consist of others with similar goals who are just starting their Omada experience. Omada doesn’t launch new groups on the weeks surrounding major holidays, so community kick-offs may get pushed back a week or so if you join during that time.

Your group interacts through a general conversation board online, where you can post questions, updates, or challenges. In addition to your small group board, there are also topic-based communities for all Omada users to join.

Research on Omada has been positive. One study found that people with pre-diabetes who used Omada regularly experienced weight loss of around 3%, along with a reduction in their Hemoglobin A1C (a measure of blood sugar control). They also found that regular group participation predicted weight loss at both 16 weeks and one year. (7)

Similarly, another study found an average weight loss of around 4% for a year-long program among low-income participants. (3)

The cost of Omada may be fully-covered by certain employers or health plans. If not, they currently offer a self-pay option of around $140 per month for the first four months, then about $20 per month following that time period. Program lengths vary depending on your goals, but all are a minimum of at least one year.

Best for Weight Loss Surgery: Bariatric Surgery Support Groups

Bariatric Surgery Support Groups

kali9 / Getty Images

 

Bariatric surgery encompasses several different surgical procedures, including gastric bypass, that are provided to help a patient lose weight. There are certain criteria that must be met to qualify for surgery, such as having a BMI greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 along with a weight-related medical issue.

If you’re contemplating getting bariatric surgery or you’ve already had it, take advantage of hospitals that offer specific support groups for it. The purpose of these programs is to help patients better understand what to expect after surgery, as well as help them follow the proper diet guidelines before and after surgery. Of course, there’s also the benefit of connecting with others in the same position as you.

One study found that bariatric surgery patients who attended support group meetings had a larger decrease in their BMI compared to those who did not attend.

Because bariatric surgery requires such a major, post-operative diet change, you’ll find more tailored support at these meetings compared to generic weight loss support groups.

You’ll also be able to connect with others at different stages of their surgical journey (pre-op, or post-op). Those who have already been through surgery can give you helpful advice if you're considering it, offering a real-life perspective.

Best Web Support Group: MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal

While most wouldn’t think MyFitnessPal—the food and exercise tracking app— would be considered a weight loss support group, it actually has a wonderfully active online community. 

Their virtual forum offers different topics for questions and sharing experiences. For example, there are groups available for recipe ideas, challenges, success stories, and more. You can simply read about others' situations to feel more inspired, or you can utilize these chats as a place to get advice in areas where you're struggling.

Of course, the free app and website also act as great places to log your daily food. Tracking meals can be eye-opening for those trying to lose weight. You’ll start to see patterns, like if you’re inclined to overeat dessert at night when you’re watching TV, or if skipping breakfast leads to bingeing at lunch. It can also help you note foods with higher-than-expected calorie counts.

When you spot these concerns, you can then proceed to the online forums to discuss them. Just keep in mind that these groups may contain inaccurate nutrition information, so don’t look to them as a place to get specific dietary advice. Instead, use them to get recipe ideas for a new vegetable, celebrate your first strength-training class, or ask for a good, lower-calorie idea for your favorite dessert.

Best Social Media Support: Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups

While Facebook groups are often subject to misinformation and poor nutrition advice, they can also be a great place to connect with others for accountability and inspiration.

There’s no one Facebook support group that’s going to fit everyone’s needs, but that’s the beauty of the platform—you can find very specific, niche groups that are ideal for your particular interests. 

For example, if you’re following a low-carb diet, you can find Facebook groups like The Low Carb Life where people share recipe and snack ideas along with success stories. If you're trying to lose weight by training for a triathlon, you can join Women for Tri to learn more about the sport of triathlon, nutrition, and training regimens.

If you're using a meal-replacement shake for one of your dishes in your quest to shed pounds, you can join the SlimFast Together group to get more tips and tricks specific to this type of diet plan.

You might also choose to start a Facebook group on your own. For example, if you and a few friends are all trying to lose weight at the same time, having a private, online space to share recipe ideas, workouts, and achievements can be valuable.

In any online group, remember that no one should be providing medically-specific nutrition advice (unless the group is led by a nutrition professional). However, people often do so anyway. Be sure to skip over any inaccurate information, and instead only follow your doctor or dietitian’s guidance for specific nutrition concerns or questions.

How We Chose These Weight Loss Support Groups

We conducted a broad search for weight loss support groups and compiled the results found via internet searches, peer-reviewed research, and professional recommendations. 

For each support group on the list, we evaluated it based on the factors of accessibility, community support, and the likelihood that evidence-based information would be provided. We chose the best options based on these criteria. Not every option excels at all three factors, but all options met at least two of these criteria. 

Do Weight Loss Support Groups Provide Diet Plans?

As you may have noticed above, some do and some don’t. If you join a support group, and they do provide meal plans, be sure that it’s not a “quick fix” solution or a fad diet. Dietitian-led groups, medical groups at hospitals, and large, commercial programs generally have good, evidence-based plans. For customized help with your diet, see a dietitian for guidance.

What Is A Healthy Rate To Lose Weight?

While it’s tempting to want massive drops on the scale, most research shows slow and steady weight loss is more sustainable. A healthy rate of weight loss is approximately one to two pounds per week.

What Should I Do If I’m Not Losing Weight?

Weight loss is a challenging journey. First, assess if you’re already at a healthy weight for your body. If so, it may be better to shift the focus from the scale to a different measurement of health, like tackling a fitness challenge or increasing muscle mass. 

If you’re not at a healthy weight for your body, and you want to lose weight, be honest about your challenges and struggles in your support group. They’re there to help you. You can also consider trying a different support community, if the one you’re currently attending doesn’t seem to be a good fit.

It’s also worthwhile to meet with a dietitian for individualized support and guidance. If there are emotional issues leading to overeating, meeting with a credentialed therapist or mental health professional can be extremely valuable, too.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gudzune KA, Doshi RS, Mehta AK, et al. "Efficacy of commercial weight-loss programs: an updated systematic review." Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(7):501–512.

  2. Mitchell NS, Polsky S, Catenacci VA, Furniss AL, Prochazka AV. "Up to 7 Years of Sustained Weight Loss for Weight-Loss Program Completers." Am J Prev Med. 2015;49(2):248–258.

  3. Mitchell NS, Polsky S. "Innovative care delivery model to address obesity in older African-American women: Senior Wellness Initiative and Take Off Pounds Sensibly collaboration for health (SWITCH)." J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013;61(11):1971–1975.

  4. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. "Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?" Accessed April 1, 2020.

  5. Orth WS1, Madan AK, Taddeucci RJ, Coday M, Tichansky DS. "Support group meeting attendance is associated with better weight loss." Obes Surg. 2008 Apr;18(4):391-4.