Behavioral strategies of individuals who have maintained long-term weight losses

Obes Res. 1999 Jul;7(4):334-41. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1999.tb00416.x.


Objective: The purpose of the present study was to compare the behaviors of individuals who have achieved long-term weight loss maintenance with those of regainers and weight-stable controls.

Research methods and procedures: Subjects for the present study were participants in a random-digit dial telephone survey that used a representative sample of the U.S. adult population. Eating, exercise, self-weighing, and dietary restraint characteristics were compared among weight-loss maintainers: individuals who had intentionally lost > or =10% of their weight and maintained it for > or = 1 year (n = 69), weight-loss regainers: individuals who intentionally lost > or = 10% of their weight but had not maintained it (n = 56), and weight-stable controls: individuals who had never lost > or = 10% of their maximum weight and had maintained their current weight (+/-10 pounds) within the past 5 years (n = 113).

Results: Weight-loss maintainers had lost an average of 37 pounds and maintained it for over 7 years. These individuals reported that they currently used more behavioral strategies to control dietary fat intake, have higher levels of physical activity (especially strenuous activity), and greater frequency of self-weighing than either the weight-loss regainers or weight-stable controls. Maintainers and regainers did not differ in reported levels of dietary restraint, but both had higher levels of restraint than the weight-stable controls.

Discussion: These results suggest that weight-loss maintainers use more behavioral strategies to control their weight than either regainers or weight-stable controls. It would thus appear that long-term weight maintenance requires ongoing adherence to a low-fat diet and an exercise regimen in addition to continued attention to body weight.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Data Collection
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • United States
  • Weight Loss*