Long-Term Weight Loss Improved by Maintenance Intervention

HealthDay News — Successful weight maintenance may be more likely with a series of post-diet coaching sessions conducted mostly by phone, according to a study published online the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Corrine Voils, Ph.D., scientific director of the Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and colleagues included 222 patients at VA clinics in North Carolina who lost an average of 16 pounds as part of a structured weight-loss program. Following their weight loss, participants were randomly assigned to receive regular coaching from dietitians or were left to their own devices. The coaching included a few group visits at first, but quickly transitioned into regular phone calls. After 42 weeks, patients were left alone for 14 weeks and then weighed again to see whether they’d experienced any weight gain.

The researchers found that dieters who received coaching had only regained about a pound and half, on average, a year after their initial weight loss. Successful dieters who received no follow-up coaching regained about 5 pounds.

The coaching addressed 4 major themes for weight-loss maintenance, Voils told HealthDay. The first involved weighing oneself regularly to identify any sudden weight gain. Patients were told to react if they noticed that they’d put back on 3 pounds. Participants also were encouraged to plan for situations where they might slip into old eating habits, such as holidays, travel, parties or church buffets; ask a friend or family member to help them maintain healthy habits that would keep weight off; and make a list of the personal benefits from weight loss they’d experienced, as a way to keep them motivated.

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Voils CI, Olsen MK, Gierisch JM. Maintenance of weight loss after initiation of nutrition training: a randomized trial [published online February 21, 2017]. Ann intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M16-2160