Objective: This prospective study assessed long-term weight maintenance of patients completing an intensive very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) weight-loss program.
Subjects: Individuals who had completed the 12-week core education program and lost > or = 10 kg were recruited.
Results: Of 154 eligible subjects, follow-up weights were obtained at > or = 2 years in 112 subjects (72.7%, 72 women, 40 men). Subjects had an average initial body mass index of 37.3 kg/m2 and an average weight loss of 29.7 kg in five months. Six hundred and forty-five follow-up weights (median, five per subject) were obtained over two to seven years of follow-up from clinic visits (70%) and self-report by telephone or mail (30%). Subjects regained an average of 2.5% per month of their lost weight during the first two to three years of follow-up; however, their weight stabilized over the next four years. Subjects regained an average of 73.4% of their weight loss during the first three years. The average weight loss maintained for 112 subjects was 22.8% of initial weight loss after an average of 5.3 years of follow-up. When successful weight maintenance was defined as maintaining a weight loss of 5% or 10% of initial (pre-treatment) body weight, 40% were maintaining a 5% weight loss at five years and 25% were maintaining a weight loss of 10% at 7 years. Multiple regression analyses suggested that age had a significant (p=0.004) and positive effect on weight maintenance.
Conclusions: This study suggests that weight maintenance after an intensive VLCD program is improving but still needs intensive efforts to enable most individuals to maintain a substantial percentage of their weight loss long-term.