Food for Thought
The television show The Biggest Loser encourages viewers to lose copious amounts of weight in order to live longer (and compete for the top prize). But fitness professionals know all too well that even when clients achieve their weight loss goals, the trick is keeping the pounds off.
To determine which, if any, weight loss strategies work over the long term, researchers compared different maintenance interventions in a randomized two-phase trial. The participants were more than 1,000 overweight or obese adults who had lost at least 4 kilograms (kg) of body weight during the first (6-month) phase of the study. In the second (30-month) phase, the successful participants were randomly placed in one of three weight loss maintenance programs: monthly personal contact; unlimited access to an interactive technology-based intervention; or self-directed control.
After the 30 months, the participants who had brief monthly personal contact were faring best, having regained less weight than those in the self-directed group or the interactive technology group. Initially, the interactive technology group had an easier time keeping their weight down, but by the end of the study, there was no difference between this group and the self-directed group.
Writing in the March 12 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, the authors concluded that the majority of the participants who successfully lost weight during the first phase of the study maintained a weight lower than their initial level, but some benefited more from the help they received. “Monthly brief personal contact provided modest benefit in sustaining weight loss, whereas an interactive technology-based intervention provided early but transient benefit,” the authors wrote.