Characterizing the Pattern of Weight Loss and Regain in Adults Enrolled in a 12-Week Internet-Based Weight Management Program

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Feb;26(2):318-323. doi: 10.1002/oby.22083. Epub 2017 Dec 13.


Objective: Although the trajectory of weight change during and/or after behavioral weight management interventions is believed to include a period of weight loss followed by maintenance and later regain, the sparse data produced by existing study designs (conducting assessments at 3- to 6-month intervals) have limited investigation into the precise pattern.

Methods: Seventy-five adults were asked to self-weigh daily via "smart" scales during a 12-week, Internet-based weight loss program and for an additional 9 months with no further intervention. Longitudinal change-point mixed-effect models were used to characterize overall weight change patterns and identify when individuals moved from weight loss to maintenance/regain.

Results: Analyses suggested a three-phase model. During the first phase, participants lost weight at a (mean ± SE) rate of -0.46 ± 0.04 kg/wk; after 77.66 ± 3.96 days, they transitioned to regain (0.07 ± 0.02 kg/wk). The next transition occurred at 222.55 ± 7.23 days, after which the rate of regain decreased slightly (0.06 ± 0.02 kg/wk). Exploratory analyses identified baseline/demographic factors predicting the timing of transition points and slope of weight change within phases.

Conclusions: In contrast to the hypothesized trajectory, results demonstrated that participants transitioned immediately from weight loss to regain (with no "maintenance" period) and later to a slower rate of regain. Future studies should investigate whether extended-care programs change or merely delay this pattern.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Research Design
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • Weight Reduction Programs / methods*
  • Young Adult