Comparison of behavior therapy with and without very-low-energy diet in the treatment of morbid obesity. A 5-year outcome

Arch Intern Med. 1997 Jul 28;157(14):1581-5.


Background: Very-low-energy diets (VLEDs) together with behavior therapy (BT) are widely used in the treatment of morbid obesity, but there is no evidence of their long-term effectiveness as compared with behavior therapy alone.

Methods: Fifty-nine morbidly obese patients (25 men and 34 women; mean weight, 132.8 +/- 20.7 kg; mean age, 43.1 +/- 9.2 years) were treated with combined therapy of VLED and BT or BT alone. No maintenance program was used. Eighty-seven percent of eligible patients were contacted 4.8 to 6.2 years after the program.

Results: During treatment, 56% of patients dropped out of the VLED + BT group and 28% from the BT group (P = .03). High scores on the Symptom Checklist-90R before treatment predicted dropout from the VLED+BT group, but not from BT. At the end of therapy, mean weight change was -22.9 kg in the VLED+BT group and -8.9 kg in the BT group (P < .001). The overall weight change from pretreatment to the 5-year follow-up was greater in the VLED+BT group than in the BT group (-16.9 kg vs -4.9 kg, respectively; P = .03). Men succeeded better in the VLED+BT group than in BT. Among the dropouts, the mean weight change from baseline was +5.2 kg in the VLED+BT group and +13.0 kg in the BT group.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that in the treatment of morbid obesity, VLED combined with BT may produce a better 5-year maintenance than BT alone, especially among men. A satisfactory weight loss can be achieved without a maintenance program.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / diet therapy
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*