Research: Predictors of successful weight maintenance

Research DefinitionResearch Definition

Weight maintenance is tied to lower food addiction and higher inhibition

Obesity Causes Disease

Weight regain happens in nearly every person that is successful at losing weight. Most dieters who attempt weight loss are able to lose the weight but the big challenge is keeping it off.  Few are able to sustain the changes in behavior required to prevent subsequent weight regain and following a weight loss intervention, most dieters drift back to the same habits that caused them to gain the weight.   If we are able to identify the common factors that predict successful weight maintenance, we might be able to improve to odds of weight maintenance.

A recent study looked to identify factors associated with successful weight loss maintenance by women with overweight or obesity[1].  Ninety women with overweight or obesity completed a 7-month weight loss intervention.  The researchers collected data from surveys 12 and 24 months after the end of the treatment. Depression, anxiety, binge eating, food addiction, and eating behaviors were assessed before and after the weight loss intervention.  Participants who lost at least 10% of their initial weight during the weight loss intervention and had maintained the loss at the month 24 follow-up were defined as successful.  The intervention was successful for 27 participants and unsuccessful for 59.  The analysis found that a lower disinhibition score (lower restraint) and a low food addiction score was associated with higher success in weight loss maintenance.

The bottom line:  Lower levels of disinhibition and food addiction at the end of the weight loss intervention predicted successful weight loss maintenance.  The results of this study are not surprising.  Of course, people who have food addictive behaviors and less restraint will regain weight as they are unable to maintain their healthy habits.  The study actually confirms that weight loss is easy and maintenance is hard.  It would be interesting to see if the treatment of food addiction increases the maintenance of weight loss.  


R. Sawamoto et al., “Predictors of successful long-term weight loss maintenance: a two-year follow-up,” BioPsychoSocial Med, vol. 11, no. 1, Jun. 2017 [Online]. Available: 10.1186/s13030-017-0099-3″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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