Can behavioral interventions help in weight loss maintenance?

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Interventions that help people reduce their #weight are widespread, but there is a lack of services that help these individuals maintain their weight at the required level. It is estimated that a third of weight loss is gained in a period of one year and the rest of it is gained in a period from 3 to 5 years.

Most weight loss trials began by inducing weight loss in participants, before offering maintenance support to those who lost a specified amount of weight. They limit their generalisability only to the individuals who responded well to a particular weight loss treatment.

A study by Falko F. Sniehotta determined whether a lower-intensity, mobile internet technology-assisted behavioural intervention can reduce weight regain among adults with obesity who achieved a clinically significant weight loss. A total of 813 participants were recruited from a range of sources across North East England in one year.


The individuals were eligible to take part if they were older than 18 years and had a body mass index 30 kg/m2 in the 24 months preceding trial entry. Moreover, they should have lost more than 5% body weight in the 12 months preceding trial entry. Overall, 288 individuals or 34% were successfully randomised in the interventions group or in the control group. The intervention comprised a single face-to-face goal-setting meeting, self-monitoring, and remote feedback on weight, diet, and physical activity via links embedded in short message service.

The average total cost, unadjusted, was estimated at £680 in the intervention group and £583 in the control group. In this study, there was no evidence of an effect of a low-intensity behavioural intervention on weight loss maintainers at 12 months compared to standard lifestyle advice. Intervention practitioners had higher levels of objectively measured physical activity at 12 months and weighed themselves more frequently.

Moreover, the intervention participants reported greater satisfaction with their weight outcomes, more planning for dietary and physical activity goals and for managing lapses, and greater confidence for healthy eating, weight loss, and weight loss maintenance.

In conclusion, there was no difference in the weight loss maintenance of participants who received the intervention compared to participants who received standard lifestyle advice via newsletter. Yet, the study has limitations such as the use of connected weighing study in both trial arms, the absence of measurement of energy intake, and the recruitment from one region of the United Kingdom which further researches should consider.

Source: Behavioural intervention for weight loss maintenance versus standard weight advice in adults with obesity: A randomized controlled trial in the UK (NULevel Trial)
Falko F. Sniehotta 2019
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