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SOS study

People with severe obesity have lonely and prolonged struggle

The participants reported on the different methods they have used to lose weight or keep their weight down

The majority of people with severe obesity have a lonely and prolonged struggle with their weight, according to the latest paper form the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study, which focused on the control group (non-surgical) included in the study. The study analysed self‐reported weight‐loss methods and weight changes over ten years and found that 83 percent were constantly striving to lose weight or prevent weight gain.

"The study shows that people with severe obesity constantly try to reduce or control their weight and do so for a long time,” said Dr Ingrid Larsson, a clinical nutritionist and associate professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. “If one believes that this group is not trying to lose weight, these results contradict those views.”

The paper, ‘Self-Reported Weight-Loss Methods and Weight Change: Ten-Year Analysis in the Swedish Obese Subjects Study Control Group’, published in the journal Obesity, asked questions that were specifically about weight loss attempts of people in the control group.

The participants reported on the different methods they have used to lose weight or keep their weight down: commercial weight loss programsme, anti-obesity medications, low energy liquid diets, exercise, support from health and medical services and weight loss on ones own.

The average ten‐year weight change was +2.1% and at every follow‐up, 82.7% of participants reported weight‐loss attempts. At ten years, 12.5% of the participants had ≥ 10% weight loss and 22.3% had ≥ 10% weight gain.

None of these methods was better or worse than the others in terms of weight loss. Those who had reduced their weight by more than 10 percent over a 10-year period had used the same methods as those who had gained an equal amount of weight. Consequently, it was not the methods that were decisive, but rather the ability to maintain a lower caloric intake over a period of time.

"They use a variety of methods, the most common one being an attempt to lose weight on their own, demonstrating that weight loss attempts are a lonely journey for many," added Larsson.

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