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.