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Study Looks at How Weight Loss Journey Can Impact Long-term Results

Many people are setting weight loss goals with the hopes of becoming healthier in the New Year. A recent study suggests that how we lose weight may have an impact on how well we are able to keep it off.

Posted: Jan. 2, 2018 8:00 AM

Many people are setting weight loss goals with the hopes of becoming healthier in the New Year.

A recent study suggests that how we lose weight may have an impact on how well we are able to keep it off.

The study looked at 183 adults who were overweight or obese with an average age of 51.

Participants took part in a weight-loss program where they were counseled on their diet and exercise.

Researchers found that those whose weight went up and down during the course of the study were more likely to struggle with weight loss one year later.

"The people who were steady with their weight-loss week after week seemed to do significantly better in the really long term - at one year out and at two years out – they had better weight loss," said Cleveland Clinic's Leslie Heinberg, Ph.D, who did not take part in the study. "Others may have lost the same amount of weight early on, but showed more variability in that weight loss."

Dr. Heinberg said the study did not uncover the reasons for the long-term differences between those who lost steadily and those who did not.

She said one explanation could be that the people who lost weight consistently did a better job of adhering to their plans or it could even be an unknown physiological difference.

Either way, Dr. Heinberg said it's good to have that early red flag if someone is on a diet plan and their weight is going up and down. With early intervention, they might have a better outcome after a year or two.

She said it's equally as important for people to find a weight-loss plan that they can stick to for long-term success.

"Many different diets work; its weight loss maintenance that's really the challenge," said Dr. Heinberg. "When thinking about different diets and thinking about different dietary plans, you really need to think about, 'what is the one that I could keep up for the long-term?'"

Dr. Heinberg said it's important for people who are serious about losing weight to keep study results in perspective and not to become discouraged. She said that studies look at large groups of people and the overall results don't necessarily reflect the successes of individuals.

"Just because the overall finding is that weight variability may lead to poorer outcome, that still doesn't mean anything for one individual person," said Dr. Heinberg. "And that one person's outcome is still far better than for somebody who didn't get any kind of treatment at all."

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