Background: Short-term weight loss is often successful, but the obtained results are difficult to maintain. Therefore, a study focusing on obese people who successfully lost weight, with special emphasis upon methods applied and background factors, is of major importance.
Methods/subjects: This study was based upon a web-based questionnaire, which the participants filled in after registration. Altogether 316 people were recruited through articles in newspapers all over Finland, and of them 184 met the inclusion criteria: age 18-60 years, body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kg/m(2) before weight loss, a weight loss of at least 10%, and maintaining it for a minimum of 2 years.
Results: A total of 158 participants (100 women and 58 men) were included in the final analyses. The mean age was 44.5 years, average BMI before weight loss 35.9 kg/m(2) and after weight loss 26.1 kg/m(2), average weight loss was 26.5% or 32.4 kg. Compared with the general Finnish population the participants smoked less (P = 0.009), used less alcohol (P ≤ 0.001), and were physically more active (P ≤ 0.001).
Conclusions: People who were successful in long-term weight loss have a much healthier lifestyle than the general Finnish population. Increased physical activity seems to be a major determinant of successful long-term results.
Keywords: Body mass index; long-term weight loss; obesity; successful weight loss.