Research: Weight Loss Maintenance is key to success. 


A maintenance plan to include relapse-prevention planning, self-monitoring, and social support is key to weight loss success. 

Surprise From Scale

Surprise From Scale

Weight regain after successful weight loss interventions is common.  Regain happens in nearly 100% of intentional weight loss.   It appears as if the type of diet does not really matter when it comes to regaining the weight.  We have come a long way in understanding weight gain and loss, but despite the efficacy of the plethora of weight loss programs out there, weight loss maintenance remains the mythical fountain of youth of weight loss research.  

Recent research looked at weight loss maintenance to look for trends.  The study looked to establish the efficacy of a weight loss maintenance programs when compared with usual care in obese adults[1].  The study was a two-group, parallel, randomized, blinded trial stratified by initial weight loss with either <10 kg and ≥10 kg weight loss.  It was conducted from 20 August 2012 to 18 December 2015.  The subjects were a group of 504 obese outpatients who lost 4 kg or more of body weight during a 16-week, group-based weight loss program performed within three primary care clinics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina.  The maintenance intervention was delivered primarily by telephone and addressed satisfaction with outcomes, relapse-prevention planning, self-monitoring, and social support.  Usual care involved no contact except for study measurements.  The primary outcome the researchers followed was weight regain, but hey also looked at self-reported caloric intake, walking, and moderate physical activity.

Bathroom Scale Measuring Tape

Bathroom Scale Measuring Tape

The researchers found that out of the 504 patients in the initial program, 222 lost at least 4 kg of body weight and were randomly assigned to maintenance or usual care. Mean weight loss during initiation was 7.2 kg. Estimated mean weight regain was statistically significantly lower in the intervention group (0.75 kg regained) than the usual care group (2.36 kg regained) with no adverse outcomes attributed to the intervention.  No statistically significant differences in secondary outcomes were seen at 56 weeks.  

So what does this mean for me?  The take home from this study is a maintenance plan is a key to keeping the weight off.   Enlist your family and friends to help you avoid regain.  The key means to avoid weight regain per this study is relapse-prevention planning, self-monitoring, and social support.  I would establish a plan for maintenance, monitor your weight with weekly weighings, and ask your family to help you make good decisions to avoid weight regain.  

The bottom line: Maintenance is the key and most difficult part of weight loss. The intervention focused on maintenance-specific strategies and delivered in a resource-conserving way modestly slowed the rate of weight regain in obese adults.  Subjects averaged 16 pounds during the 16-week trial, but a large portion regained the weight.  A group-based weight loss program to determine if a low-intensity intervention including relapse-prevention planning, self-monitoring, and social support helped participants keep off the weight off.  More research is needed to look at a more diverse population.  



C. I. Voils et al., “Maintenance of Weight Loss After Initiation of Nutrition Training,” A, vol. 166, no. 7, p. 463, Feb. 2017 [Online]. Available: 10.7326/M16-2160″ 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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