Obesity is a serious health issue in the United States. Reports from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2016) indicate that 25 US states have an obesity rate of 30 percent, and 4 US states exceed 35 percent. It is estimated that about one in three Americans are now obese. Being overweight increases the risk of several health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other diseases. The range of weight-loss methods available is wide. Now, new research published in the Journal of Obesity maintains that a “slow but steady” approach works best for weight loss. The study suggests that choosing a weight loss treatment that helps in losing a consistent number of pounds each week is better in the long-term.
The study, conducted by researchers at Drexel University in Philadelphia, involved 183 overweight or obese adults aged 18-65, mostly women, who were following different weight-loss plans. They enrolled in a year-long weight loss program that included meal replacements and behavioral goals such as calorie monitoring, self monitoring and increasing physical activity. The study participants attended weekly treatment groups in which they were weighed and returned for a final weigh within 2 years from the start of the program. They were also asked to reveal details about their food-related behaviors and attitudes like cravings, emotional eating, binge eating and confidence in regulating intake.
The researchers observed the number of pounds these participants lost from week to week during the first six and 12 weeks of their various programs. They also compared the pattern of weight loss to the participant’s weights after 12 months and again at 24 months.
It was found that people who lost the same amount of weight week after week at the beginning of a new regimen were more likely to be successful in the long term when compared to others whose weight loss varied weekly.
The team wanted to find the different factors that make weight loss programs less successful for some people and identify predictors that could improve treatment outcomes in the future. The study signifies the need and importance of developing a stable schedule of healthy eating behaviors and exercise for keeping weight management consistent. The researchers say that the strategy of trying to lose as much weight as possible all the time might not work. On the other hand, a small behavior change that can be maintained is better. The study stresses the importance of assessing your weight-loss plan with a health professional after several weeks and trying something different if it’s not working.