Are smaller weight losses or more achievable weight loss goals better in the long term for obese patients?

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Aug;66(4):641-5. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.66.4.641.


Weight losses and psychological well-being were examined at 30 months in 69 men and 61 women initially treated with behavior therapy as a function of (a) initial weight loss and (b) weight-loss goals. Initial weight losses were positively, not negatively, related to weight loss at 30 months. Weight loss goals did not predict short-term or long-term weight loss. People who reached weight goals had better long-term weight losses than those who did not, but this finding was largely due to differences in initial weight loss. Psychological well-being at 30 months was not related to initial weight losses or goals. Although correlational rather than experimental, these results do not support the hypothesis that obese patients should be encouraged to set lower weight-loss goals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diet, Reducing / methods
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss* / physiology