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Monday, May 9, 2016

Follow-up: On The Futility of Maintaining Weight Loss, and the Biggest Loser

I wanted to follow-up my last post with some of my findings since.

Futile, or not?

First off, I found a separate study, and one with a much much larger sample size.

Link to the Study

What this study shows is that when people followed an intense and fully monitored program (which they call ILI), many were able to lose weight - significant amounts - and retain that weight loss for four years.

In fact 46% of participants were down at least 5% of their body weight after 4 years.  That's a pretty remarkable number when you think of all those who try and fail...

They contrasted this to more of an "informational" program, where the numbers weren't as encouraging... so it seems that being part of a group losing the weight together with proper support (instruction and holding you to account!) is a big factor in whether you will be successful or not.

Who were the successful ones?
Participants who maintained the loss, compared with those who did not, attended more treatment sessions and reported more favorable physical activity and food intake at year 4

So basically those who remained engaged in the group, who exercised and watched their food.

The Caveat

So how do we square this with the Biggest Loser results?

Well first we have to recognize that 54% even in this study failed to keep 5% of their body weight off, so that's still most people.  And then we have to recognize that nothing is one-size-fits-all -  it could well be that there are strong genetic factors that determine your body's response to weight loss, and in the ultra-obese group of Biggest Loser contestants you'll be most likely to find them.

For the rest of us?  Well I'll take a 46% chance at keeping it off, since I've managed to do it so far!

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