Background: Although dietary weight-loss counseling usually employs a 500 to 1,000 kcal/day energy deficit to induce weight loss of 0.5 to 1 kg/week, this rate of weight loss is rarely achieved in research settings. Biological factors, such as changes in metabolic rate, are partly responsible, but would only account for a small deviation from expected weight loss. There must be other factors, behavioral or related to study design and implementation, that affect the rate of weight loss observed.
Objective: To examine factors that influence the rate of weight loss obtained in clinical studies.
Design: Thirty-five weight-loss studies published between 1995 and 2009 were identified that used dietary counseling to induce weight loss in healthy subjects. Studies were included if they had a duration of at least 6 weeks, used a strategy to counsel subjects to reduce free-living energy intakes, and reported weight-loss data based on a completers analysis. Variables that were associated with the rate of weight loss among age, sex (percent female subjects), initial body weight, frequency of dietary counseling, placebo use, exercise level, study length, and prescribed energy deficit were examined using linear regression analysis.
Results: Study length was negatively related to the rate of weight loss (P<0.0001), whereas subject age (P<0.002), subject age squared (P=0.0073), initial body weight (P=0.0003), frequency of dietary counseling (P=0.0197), and prescribed energy deficit (P<0.0001) were positively related to the rate of weight loss observed in clinical studies.
Conclusions: These findings provide a tool for investigators and clinical dietitians to predict the rate of weight loss that can be expected within a population given the age, initial body weight, frequency of dietary counseling, and energy deficit prescription. These data from clinical studies suggest that the rate of weight loss is greater in older and heavier subjects and with higher contact frequency and caloric restriction.
Copyright © 2012 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.