The key to long-term weight loss and maintenance might be to lose weight quickly rather than gradually, at least in the initial stages of dieting, a new study suggests. More research is needed to determine the best approach, however.
The key to long-term weight loss and maintenance might be to lose weight quickly rather than gradually, at least in the initial stages of dieting, a new study suggests.
More research is needed to determine the best approach, however.
Successful weight loss in obese individuals is defined as a reduction of 10 percent or more of initial body weight maintained for at least a year. The jury is still out, however, as to whether fast or slow initial weight loss is the best approach for weight control over the long-term.
The new study, conducted by Lisa Nackers and colleagues, from the University of Florida, looked at data from 262 middle-aged obese women who took part in a six-month weight loss program.
Participants were encouraged to reduce calorie intake and increase physical activity to achieve an average weight loss of just under a pound (0.45 kilograms) per week for the first six months. Then during the following year, participants got weight-loss support that involved contact twice a month in the form of group sessions, telephone contact or newsletters.
The researchers found that some of the women shed pounds quickly, while others did so relatively gradually, and others were slow to lose weight during the first month of the study.
Women in the fast weight-loss group lost over 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) per week; those in the moderate group lost between 0.5 and 1.5 pounds (0.23 and 0.68 kg) per week; women in the slow group lost less than 0.5 pounds (0.23 kg) per week. They then looked at the womenâ€™s weight loss at six and 18 months, as well as any weight regain at the end of the follow-up year.
Those in the fast weight-loss group shed more weight overall, maintained their weight loss for longer and were not more likely to put weight back on than the more gradual weight losers. At the end of six months, women in the fast group lost an average of around 30 pounds (13.5 kg), while those in the moderate group lost around 20 (8.9 kg), and those in the slow group lost about 11 pounds (5.1 kg).
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