Associations between weight loss history and factors related to type 2 diabetes risk in the Stop Diabetes study

Int J Obes (Lond). 2022 May;46(5):935-942. doi: 10.1038/s41366-021-01061-4. Epub 2022 Jan 12.


Background: Frequent weight loss attempts are related to maladaptive eating behaviours and higher body mass index (BMI). We studied associations of several type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk factors with weight loss history, defined as the frequency of prior weight loss attempts, among Finnish adults at increased risk for T2D.

Methods: This study (n = 2684, 80% women) is a secondary analysis of the 1-year StopDia lifestyle intervention with digital intervention group, digital intervention + face-to-face counselling group, or control group. The frequency of prior weight loss attempts was categorized into five groups: no attempts/no attempts to lose weight, but trying to keep weight stable/1-2 attempts/3 or more attempts/ continuous attempts. Data on emotional eating and social/emotional nutrition self-efficacy were collected with a digital questionnaire. We assessed baseline differences between categories of weight loss history as well as the intervention effects.

Results: Altogether 84% of participants had attempted weight loss. Those with one or more weight loss attempts had higher BMI, larger waist circumference, and more emotional eating compared to 'no attempts' and 'no attempts to lose weight, but trying to keep weight stable' categories. The 'no attempts' category had the highest baseline fasting insulin, whereas it showed the largest decrease in this measure with the intervention. This change in fasting insulin in the 'no attempts' category was significantly different from all the other categories. Emotional nutrition self-efficacy slightly improved in the 'no attempts' category, which was significantly different from its concomitant decrease in the categories '1-2 attempts' and '3 or more attempts'. The intervention group assignment did not affect the results.

Conclusions: Multiple attempts to lose weight may unfavourably affect T2D risk factors as well as lifestyle intervention outcomes. More research is needed on how weight loss frequency could affect T2D risk factors and how to design lifestyle interventions for individuals with frequent previous weight loss attempts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulins*
  • Male
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Loss


  • Insulins