Research: Regular meals may be key to successful weight loss.


A study reveals keys to successful weight maintenance in young adults



In young adulthood, the beginnings of life-long obesity start.  An intervention in early adulthood could make the difference and improve health for a whole lifetime.  The problem, to date,  has been a lack in quality studies and a poor understanding of what would be required to prevent weight gain on a population-wide scale.  The factors causing weight gain are poorly understood in this group.  I can remember when I started college we were reminded about the “freshman 20” which referred to the standard weight gain of 20 pounds during one’s freshman year in college.  This study documents factors that are important during this period of young adulthood in which weight gain begins to challenge the majority of young adults.

  A new study which released in March of 2018[1].  The goal of the study was to observe successful weight observe successfully maintenance over ten years in young adults.  This prospective study looked at successful weight maintainers and look for factors that may have contributed to this success.  It is important to note that you cannot determine causation in an observational or prospective study,  but links are helpful in establishing potential causes.  The study included 2452 women and 2227 men born in 1975–1979.   This study had an attrition rate of 27.1% and the mean age was 24 years.    The researchers defined weight maintenance as a weight maintained at ± 5% of the baseline BMI.    Only approximately one-quarter of the male (23%) and female (28.6%) subjects were able to maintain your weight over the 10-year span.  Net weight loss was also uncommon.  It is not surprising that most participants gained weight with a mean annual weight gain was 0.9 kg in women and 1.0 kg in men.   Among women, exercise was associated with successful weight maintenance.  Women having two or more children, frequent use of sweet drinks, irregular eating, history of dieting and low life satisfaction tended to gain weight.   Among men, higher baseline BMI and higher education were associated with successful weight maintenance.   Irregular eating, history of dieting and smoking were associated with weight gain in men.

The bottom line:  Only about a quarter of young adults were able to resist weight gain. Regular eating and having no history of dieting were associated with successful weight maintenance in young women and men.  I am not surprised that a lack of dieting was associated with weight maintenance.  I suspect that people who maintain their weight are less likely to diet and not the opposite.  More research is needed.  


U. Kärkkäinen, L. Mustelin, A. Raevuori, J. Kaprio, and A. Keski-Rahkonen, “Successful weight maintainers among young adults-A ten-year prospective population study.,” Eat Behav, vol. 29, pp. 91–98, Mar. 2018. [PubMed]
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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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