Singapore is widely known for its diverse and delectable food offerings. A variety of cuisines—Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan, and Eurasian—are available from its world-famous hawker centres and food courts. However, with many popular dishes being high in calories and in larger portions, the fears of an overweight and obese population have grown annually.
The situation is worse now than in previous years. In a 2021–22 survey of >4,500 Singaporeans, the Ministry of Health found that nearly 30% of the adults were classified as overweight and nearly 12% were clinically obese. This trend of adult obesity has steadily increased since 2017, especially among adult males.
Understanding overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulations that may impair health. In adults, overweight is defined by a BMI greater than or equal to 25 and obesity by a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
Fundamentally, these conditions are caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and expended. Left unaddressed, these preventable, global health challenges can lead to severe health complications.
For these reasons, Singapore has seen an increase in weight loss programmes that aim to help its population strike a balance between indulging in Singapore's rich food heritage and maintaining healthy, active lifestyles. However, with so many available, it can be overwhelming to know which will be the most effective for weight loss.
That's why we've put together this guide. We’ll help you navigate the various programmes in Singapore, understand the science behind them, and help you make an informed decision about which one might be best for you.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular weight-loss programmes.
Homeage promotes a holistic approach to weight management, emphasising changes in daily routines to modify behaviours. Their advice centres around prevention, such as eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods, exercising regularly, and having a positive mindset.
In addition to promoting several of the services that Homeage Care Professionals can provide, including home-cooked meals, physiotherapy, and care consultation, Homeage also introduces several weight management programmes in Singapore that are offered by different hospitals and clinics, such as KTPH, SGH, CGH, KKH, NUH, and NTFGH, describing the features, benefits, and requirements of each programme.
NOVI Optimum is a holistic, tailored weight management programme offered by NOVI Health, a Singapore-based clinic specialising in diabetes and obesity. While they do state that results will vary, they claim that individuals “can expect to lose 2–10% of body weight”.
For S$99 per month, you get access to NOVI’s specialist dietitians and fitness coaches, who will help develop a sustainable diet and workout plan, and NOVIFY, their progress-tracking mobile app. Consultations, workouts, coaching, and diet plans all occur digitally, however, in-person sessions can be purchased as add-ons.
Eureka Wellness is a weight-loss company in Singapore that claims to be a “zero failure weight-loss programme”. To achieve this, they follow a 4-step process that involves eliminating unhealthy fats (detoxify), reducing appetite (indulgence), increasing metabolism (weight loss), and maintaining weight (maintenance).
The process primarily employs a low-calorie diet, weight management support products that help manage hunger and support metabolism, and dietary guidance. They state that no exercise is required to achieve an average weight loss of 10 kg (men) or 8 kg (women) over 8 weeks.
The weight-loss programme can be purchased via a 1-time payment of S$4,999 or 4-week instalments of S$1,330, which buys you delivery of the products, daily WhatsApp support, and a complimentary 1-hour supermarket tour.
HealthHub focuses on the weight management programme provided by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). KTPH offers a 24-week programme comprising 5 phases:
- Medical assessment.
- Allied health assessment (with dieticians and physiotherapists).
- Active weight loss consultations and workshops (on diet, exercise, healthy habits, and stress management).
- Allied health reassessments.
- Maintenance (medical reassessment).
Every 2 months, participants’ progress is assessed to identify areas for improvement.
It’s during these assessments that certain patients may be offered bariatric surgery, which helps reduce food consumption and increase weight loss by removing a part of the stomach. HealthHub makes clear that surgery is only an option under certain circumstances, such as extreme obesity or metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes), and that it is never a “quick fix”.
Provided by various hospitals and clinics across Singapore, SingHealth's Weight Management Programme is designed to achieve fat loss safely and effectively. As a healthcare institution, they regularly report and publish participants’ results rather than cite anecdotal results.
Their programme is closely supervised and, over the course of 6 months, participants can expect to lose 5–10% of their starting body weight (an average reduction of 7.3 kg). The programme is initiated by a medical screening by Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM) physicians, who will also prescribe a diet and exercise regime that should be followed 5–7 days per week.
SingHealth is one of the few programmes to refer to the use of weight loss drugs, a topic popularised by celebrities and social media influencers. SingHealth states that they only employ drugs if participants hit a plateau after months of dieting and that 80–90% of participants complete the programme without them.
The Mayo Clinic Diet is a long-term weight management program created by Mayo Clinic experts and is based on research and clinical experience. It helps individuals reshape their lifestyles by adopting healthy habits and abandoning unhealthy old ones.
Their diet has 2 phases: Lose it! and Live it! The first phase is a 2-week jump-start that helps individuals lose 2.7–4.5 kg. The second phase is a lifelong approach that teaches how to eat, exercise, and cope with setbacks, where individuals can continue to lose 0.5–1 kg per week until a goal weight is achieved.
To enable this, the Mayo Clinic provides helpful tools and resources, such as the Healthy Weight Pyramid, which helps individuals choose foods that are filling but low in calories (more fruits or vegetables and less fats and sweets). It also offers tips on how to estimate portion sizes and plan meals. They recommend that their nutrition plan is combined with at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day, prioritising walking and resistance exercises.
Which programmes are effective for weight loss?
The most effective weight management programme will always be the one that best aligns with your unique needs, preferences, and goals. Beyond that, the most effective ones are likely those that incorporate behaviour change, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise. It’s vital to look for programmes that focus on long-term success, not only short-term results.
Programmes like HealthHub and SingHealth stand out from the rest due to their close supervision by healthcare professionals and rigorous monitoring. HealthHub, in association with KTPH, offers a well-structured 24-week programme comprising both active consultations and educational workshops. The consideration of bariatric surgery under certain circumstances highlights a commitment to individualised care. SingHealth is unique in its reporting and publishing of participant outcomes. Its programme’s combination of screenings, diet, regular cardiovascular and resistance training, and even weight loss drugs, offer a comprehensive toolkit for effective weight management.
Among other programmes, the Mayo Clinic Diet distinguishes itself with its long-term, research-backed approach. By emphasising sustainable lifestyle changes, offering simple tools for food and portion control, and advocating regular physical activity, it aligns with established principles of healthy weight management. The 2-phase approach provides structure and guidance for both initial weight loss and long-term weight management.
Steer clear of programmes that advertise ambiguous weight-loss products or unrealistic weight loss expectations. Realistically, most adults can expect to lose 0.5–1% body weight per week, at least initially. This means that if you weigh 68 kg and want to lose 4.5 kg, you should aim for 0.3–0.7 kg of weight change per week, which would take you about 7–13 weeks. This rate of change is sustainable, achievable, and healthy.
The UFIT Approach - how are we different?
At UFIT, we know that the best way to get results is to not just focus on one aspect of your health and fitness in isolation. We never prioritise quick fixes, fad diets, or obsess over your physical appearance. Instead we're all about longevity. We focus on helping you move better, feel better, and perform better by looking at all the core foundations of health and fitness together.
And do you know what? We know that living a healthy, balanced lifestyle isn't always easy, so we’ve simplified it for you with our Circle of Care. This 360 approach to your health and wellbeing is designed to support you in all the key foundations of health, so you can build sustainable habits and achieve long-lasting results.
Forget about having to travel across Singapore and pay separately to see different professionals. Our Circle of Care provides you with incredible value for money by building a comprehensive, personalised program that can be delivered by the personal trainers, nutritionists, physiotherapists, and health professionals right here at UFIT.