Weight Maintenance after Dietary Weight Loss: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Effectiveness of Behavioural Intensive Intervention

Nutrients. 2022 Mar 16;14(6):1259. doi: 10.3390/nu14061259.


After a low-calorie diet, only 25% of patients succeed in maintaining the result of weight loss for a long time. This systematic review and meta-analysis aims to explore whether patients undergoing intensive intervention during the maintenance phase have a greater preservation of the weight achieved during the previous slimming phase than controls. A bibliographic search was conducted using PubMed, Scopus, and Cochrane databases for clinical trials and randomised, controlled trials investigating the role of choice in weight-loss-maintenance strategies. Only studies with a follow-up of at least 12 months were considered. A total of eight studies, for a total of 1454 patients, was identified, each comparing a group that followed a more intensive protocol to a control group. Our metanalysis highlighted that an intensive approach even in the maintenance phase could be important to ensure greater success in the phase following the weight-loss period. However, it should be pointed out that the improvement was not so different from the trend of the respective controls, with a non-statistically significant mean difference of the effect size (0.087; 95% CI -0.016 to 0.190 p = 0.098). This finding, along with the observation of a weight regain in half of the selected studies, suggests this is a long work that has to be started within the weight-loss phase and reinforced during the maintenance phase. The problem of weight control in patients with obesity should be understood as a process of education to a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet to be integrated in the context of a multidisciplinary approach.

Keywords: behavioural approach; diet; exercise; gender; low caloric diet; obesity; overweight; physical activity; weight loss; weight loss maintenance.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Body Weight Maintenance*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Weight Loss*