Consistently Losing Pounds Is Better For Long Term Weight Loss

Researchers found that people whose weight varied the most during a behavioral weight-loss program’s early weeks had poorer long term result than those who lost a consistent number of pounds per week.

“It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term,” said investigator Emily Feig, Ph.D., a former grad student in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University.

The study involved 183 overweight or obese individuals who, for one year, were given meal replacements and behavioral goals such as calorie monitoring, and increased physical activity. At weekly treatment group meetings the participants were weighed, and they came back for a weigh-in one year after the program ended. Participants self-reported on food-related behaviors such as emotional eating, and managing cravings.

The collected data showed that greater weight fluctuation through the first six, and 12 weeks of the program was associated with poorer outcomes at 12, and at 24 months. For instance, a person who consistently lost one pound each week for three weeks did better than someone who lost four pounds one week, regained two the next, and then lost a pound the third week.

Though the association between consistent weight loss and better long term outcomes does not prove causation, the researches believe their study points to a potential strategy for meeting weight loss goals. “Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing 3/4 of a pound each week,” says researcher Michael Lowe, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Drexel.

If this study is validated by future investigations, weight-loss fluctuations might be a way to identify individuals who would benefit from structured weight-loss programs focusing on consistency.

Source: Drexel University
Photo credit: Ayurvedic India

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