New research into weight maintenance shows some (slightly) promising results.
After 30 months – the majority of participants were able to keep their weight below the initial level. Maintaining weight loss is not a popular topic. Books sell much better if you can claim “10 pounds in 4 weeks”. However most research into long-term weight maintenance shows a very depressing outcome – many many people rebound and end up worse than when they started – lending credence to the statement: “Diets don’t work”.
The full text of this research is available.
The short story is that just over 1,000 individuals were monitored.
- They went on a weight loss program for 6 months and lost 8.5kg / 18.7 lbs.
- Researchers carried on weighing them for another two and a half years.
- Participants were split into three groups; one group was left to their own devices (self-directed). One group used a web site to track their changes. The third group had personal contact:
The personal-contact intervention consisted of a case management approach with monthly person-to-person guidance and support. Participants had telephone contact with an interventionist for 5 to 15 minutes each month,
In terms of regain, the personal-contact group were the winners – regaining 8.8 lbs.
- The group using a web site regained 11.5 lbs.
- The control group regained 12.1 lbs.
If you’re curious about the website model:
Interactive features allowed participants to set personal goals and action plans for the next week and to graph personal data over time. Modules addressed problem solving and motivation, and a bulletin board facilitated social support but did not provide in-person counseling.
Nothing beats having a “buddy” or close-knit supporters that you can call on for help, motivation, or simply someone who will listen.