You may need to do a little extra handholding with clients who are brand-new to an exercise and nutrition regimen. University of Colorado researchers in Aurora, Colorado, found that people who were very unfit when they started a behavioral weight loss program lost less weight than those who were more fit when the program began.

In the study, 60 adults who were overweight or had obesity took part in an 18-month weight loss program that included a calorie-restricted diet, group support and 6 months of supervised exercise. By the end of the intervention, those with “poor or better fitness” had lost almost twice as much weight as those in the “very poor fitness” category. Study subjects with very poor fitness could not do 10-minute bouts of exercise at the start of the study.

“This research could help us improve the design of our weight loss programs and suggests that adults with very poor fitness may benefit from additional exercise support during a weight loss program to achieve higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and improve long-term weight loss,” said lead investigator Adnin Zaman, MD, an instructor at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study was scheduled for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting.