Weight loss maintenance secrets revealed in study of people who kept it up for years


Losing weight is one matter, but keeping weight off is an even greater challenge, which is why a new study has examined those who have been able to kee[itoff[itoff

US researchers analyzed how people were able to keep weight off long-term as just one in five Americans are able to maintain weight loss.

The large scale study included 6,319 people who lost an average of 50lb (3.57 stone or almost 23kg) and held onto the weight loss for an average of almost 3.5 years.

Insights from the peer-reviewed study revealed how people were able to maintain weight loss.

Respondents shared how they persevere through setbacks and indeed reframed weight loss ‘failures’ as temporary interruptions.

The California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) study was published February 9 in the medical journal titled Obesity.

How did they maintain weight loss?

Back of woman running, sun rise, sun flare, rural landscape, misty.
Back of woman running, sun rise, sun flare, rural landscape, misty.

The respondents were all WW members, formerly known as Weight Watchers, and were asked open-ended questions on their motivation, strategies and lifestyle changes.

Perseverance, making comparisons to their life before weight loss, and a continued focus on health were three common themes.

Their motivation for keeping the weight off were categorized under five main reasons:

  • Health issues, like diabetes and heart conditions
  • mobility
  • appearance
  • Social reasons, including comments from friends and family
  • Changes needed, such as feeling fatigue pre-weight loss

Their advice for long-term weight loss emphasized perseverance and monitoring the food they ate as an ‘essential skill within a healthy lifestyle’.

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Respondents encouraged others to ‘take it day by day’, use meetings to reset after difficult weeks, and embrace long-term goals.

“One of the most impressive findings was how weight-loss maintainers described perseverance in the face of setbacks,” noted the study’s leader Professor Suzanne Phelan of Cal Poly.

“Weight-loss maintainers saw setbacks as part of their successful journey. Setbacks were not described as failures.

“They were seen as a temporary interruption in their path.

She added: “Many weight-loss maintainers described getting back on track at the next meal or the next day and measuring overall success based on long-term goals.”

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What were the motivations, changes and consequences of long-term weight loss?

The study also demonstrated that weight-loss maintainers:

  • Stay mostly motivated by health and appearance, as well as reflecting on past experiences
  • Believe that the most important changes include reduced pain, medical status, confidence, feeling more at ease and comfortable mentally and physically, fitness and body image
  • Describe the consequences of successful weight loss as challenges related to: the cost of buying new clothes, unexpected criticism from others, sagging skin and the effort needed to keep up a healthy lifestyle
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Prof Phelan said the findings could change how professionals help people maintain weight loss.

“As a lifestyle interventionist and researcher, I’m excited to think about how to promote perseverance, encourage tracking of intake and make changes in medical status more salient during the weight-loss journey,” she said.




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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