Impact of weight loss and regain on quality of life: mirror image or differential effect?

Obes Res. 2003 Oct;11(10):1207-13. doi: 10.1038/oby.2003.166.


Objective: To compare the impact of weight regain and weight loss on health-related quality of life.

Research methods and procedures: Subjects were 122 (106 women, 16 men) overweight and obese participants in a weight reduction program (phentermine-fenfluramine and dietary counseling) who had initially lost at least 5% of their total body weight and then regained at least 5% of their weight during the follow-up period. Follow-up periods ranged from 10 to 41 months (mean, 28 months). Participants completed the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Lite, an obesity-specific health-related quality of life (HRQOL) measure, at 3-month intervals.

Results: Mean BMI at baseline was 40.9 +/- 6.6 kg/m(2) (range, 29.2 to 63.7 kg/m(2)). Average weight loss from entry was 18.8 +/- 6.7% (range, 6.0% to 43.7%), and average regain was 10.1 +/-4.4% of baseline weight (range, 5.0% to 30.6%). The effects of weight regain on HRQOL mirrored the effects of weight loss-rates of HRQOL change were similar in magnitude but different in direction for comparable weight loss and regain. Those with more severe initial impairments in HRQOL experienced greater improvements in HRQOL during weight loss as well as greater deterioration during weight regain than those with less severe impairments.

Discussion: Weight loss and regain produced mirror image changes in HRQOL. The initial severity of HRQOL impairment had a greater impact on the magnitude of HRQOL change than the direction of weight change. Findings underscore the importance of maintaining weight loss for the purposes of retaining obesity-specific HRQOL benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*