In a recent study, researchers find that most people lose, gain and maintain their weight and that those who lose the most weight are most likely to keep it off and keep losing.
The researchers reviewed the electronic medical records of 177,743 obese patients to analyze the trends in weight change.
These patients had no medical conditions linked to unintentional weight loss, they had been having annual body mass index (BMI) measurements for five years or longer.
Based on the BMI reduction within 6 months, the patients were organized into four weight-loss groups:
Stable (less than 5% of first BMI lost); modest loss (5% to less than 10%); moderate loss (10% to less than 15%); and high loss (15% or more).
The result shows that patients who lost more weight early on were more likely to continue to lose weight over time.
Among patients with modest weight loss, 23.1% maintained their weight and 2.0% continued to lose weight over the two-year monitoring period;
in those with moderate weight loss, 14.1% maintained their weight loss and 4.1% continued to lose weight;
and in those with high weight loss, 19.4% maintained their weight and 11.1% continued to lose weight.
But over the two years, fewer patients maintained their weight.
In the modest, moderate, and high weight-loss groups, 40.0%, 35.9%, and 18.6% of patients, respectively, regained over half of their lost weight during the maintenance period.
And most patients in each group experienced weight cycling or weight regain.
The high weight-loss group had the lowest proportion of cyclers with 58.3%, while 71.5% of the modest weight loss group and 74.1% of the moderate weight loss group were cyclers.
The researchers said that achieving and maintaining weight loss is quite difficult.
Many people regain weight after their initial loss; and even after a period of weight loss, most people become ‘cyclers’ who regain weight or experience inconsistent losses and gains.
The team suggests that these important challenges require further attention. They hope these results highlight the importance of chronic, consistent and conscientious weight loss and management.
Currently, about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and the economic and health burdens of the obesity epidemic are substantial.