Behavior therapy for obesity: where are we now?

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2009 Oct;16(5):347-52. doi: 10.1097/MED.0b013e32832f5a79.


Purpose of review: To describe the short-term and long-term results of lifestyle modification for obesity.

Recent findings: Randomized controlled trials, which compared different diet and activity interventions were reviewed. Studies that investigated the efficacy of new technologies to provide lifestyle modification, such as web-based delivery, also were examined.

Summary: In general, comprehensive lifestyle modification programs delivered in person induce a loss of approximately 10% of initial weight in 16-26 weeks of treatment. The use of portion-controlled diets, which typically involve the use of meal replacement products, was associated with significantly larger weight losses in the short term. In contrast, interventions delivered via the Internet induced a loss of approximately 5%. However, web-based programs appear to have potential in facilitating the continuation on patient-provider contact, which along with high levels of physical activity, appear to be key strategies for successful long-term weight control. Recent studies also have suggested that the combination of lifestyle modification with long-term use of pharmacotherapy holds promise for maximizing initial weight losses and promoting long-term maintenance.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bariatric Surgery / rehabilitation
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Behavior Therapy / trends*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Diet / methods
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Obesity / therapy*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents