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Strategies for maintain weight loss

Key strategies to maintaining sustained weight loss

Building healthy dietary, self-monitoring and psychological coping strategies may be the keys to success

A study by researchers from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, US, has reported that that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, building healthy dietary, self-monitoring and psychological coping strategies may be the keys to success.

The study, ‘Behavioral and Psychological Strategies of Long‐Term Weight Loss’, published in Obesity, used validated questionnaires to identify novel behavioural and psychological strategies among weight loss maintainers (WLMs) in a commercial weight management programme. The researchers reported that some of the most effective behaviours and psychological strategies reported by those maintaining their weight loss included choosing healthy food, tracking what you eat and using positive self-talk.

"People who maintained their successful weight loss the longest reported greater frequency and repetition in healthy eating choices," said Dr Suzanne Phelan, from the Department of Kinesiology and Public Health & Center for Health Research, California Polytechnic State University, who led the study. "Healthier choices also became more automatic the longer people continued to make those choices. These findings are encouraging for those working at weight loss maintenance. Over time, weight loss maintenance may become easier, requiring less intentional effort."

The study surveyed 4,786 members of WW (formerly Weight Watchers) who reported losing an average of about 50lbs and kept it off for 3.3 years, to look at their weight management strategies. Researchers compared this group to a control group of 528 people with obesity (mean BMI38.9) and who reported not gaining or losing more than five pounds for a period of greater than five years.

The research team examined 54 behaviors related to weight management. Compared to the group of weight-stable individuals, the group of weight loss maintainers practiced more frequent healthy dietary choices (3.3 vs. 1.9;  p=0.37), self‐monitoring (2.6 vs. 0.7;  p=0.30) and psychological coping (2.5 vs. 1.1;  p=0.25) strategies. WLMs also reported more willingness to ignore food cravings (4.4 vs. 3.5; p=0.16) and had greater habit strength for healthy eating (5.3 vs. 3.2; p=0.21). Standard canonical coefficients indicated that dietary (0.52), self‐monitoring (0.40) and psychological (0.14) strategies as well as habit strength for healthy eating (0.15) contributed independently and most (49.5% of variance) to discriminating groups.

“Lifestyle interventions typically include an armament of strategies to help promote successful weight control. The practical implications of the current study’s findings are to highlight some key strategies that most characterized successful WLMs in a large, commercial weight management program: keeping low‐calorie foods accessible, setting daily intake goals, recording daily intake, measuring foods, thinking about past successes, and remaining positive in the face of weight regain,” the authors concluded. “More frequent practice of these dietary, self‐monitoring, and psychological coping strategies and development of greater habit strength differentiated long‐term WLMs from weight‐stable individuals with obesity. Future research should consider emphasizing these components in development of effective weight maintenance programmes.”

The results of this study can help people focus on the strategies that are most likely to help participants maintain a healthy weight.

"Successful weight loss is associated with a variety of health benefits," Phelan added. "The improved quality of life observed among the successful weight losers in this study may serve as an important motivator for people working at long-term weight management."

To access this paper, please click here

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