Comparison among criteria to define successful weight-loss maintainers and regainers in the Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) and Diabetes Prevention Program trials

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec;106(6):1337-1346. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.157446. Epub 2017 Oct 18.


Background: Given the low rates of successful weight maintenance after lifestyle-induced weight loss, it is critical to develop approaches that distinguish successful weight-loss maintainers from regainers.Objective: The aim of this study was to compare published categorization criteria that differentiate maintainers and regainers via quantitative agreement.Design: The study used publicly available data from Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes; n = 1791) and Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP; n = 613) participants with ≥3% initial weight loss after lifestyle interventions and 4-y follow-up data. Eight previously published criteria defining maintainers and regainers were compared with respect to number of participants and concordance via agreement statistics. Criteria were assessed separately among those with 3-9% and ≥10% initial weight loss.Results: Regainers had higher body weight at year 4 than did maintainers (mean difference range: 6.6-11.9 kg in Look AHEAD; 11.5-14.6 kg in DPP; P < 0.0001). Assessing concordance among criteria, agreement was dependent on initial weight loss. Among those with 3-9% initial weight loss in both cohorts, 9 of 28 comparisons were concordant (agreement ≥80%). Among those with ≥10% initial weight loss, 7 of 28 comparisons in Look AHEAD and 13 of 28 in the DPP were in high agreement. The definition of successful weight-loss maintenance "regaining ≤25% of initial weight loss during maintenance" showed high agreement with the most commonly used definition of "staying ≥10% below initial weight" among those with ≥10% initial weight loss (agreement: 85.0% in Look AHEAD; 87.4% in DPP). The same definition of ≤25% regain showed high agreement with the definition of staying ≥5% below initial weight among those with 3-9% initial weight loss (agreement: 91.6% in Look AHEAD; 90.5% in DPP).Conclusions: Although all of the criteria discriminated on the basis of weight loss, many showed low agreement, which limited cross-study comparisons. Among criteria with high agreement, the definition of successful weight maintenance "regaining ≤25% of initial weight loss during maintenance" is a preferred definition of success, given the realistic challenges of maintaining 100% weight loss and flexible application in populations with high initial weight-loss variations. This trial was registered at as NCT00017953 (Look AHEAD) and NCT00004992 (DPP).

Keywords: Diabetes Prevention Program; Look AHEAD; lifestyle modification; weight regain; weight-loss maintenance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight
  • Body Weight Maintenance*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Overweight / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Gain*
  • Weight Loss

Associated data