New research provides
Keeping off the pounds for good once they’re gone can often be even more challenging than losing the weight—but what if an accountability partner could increase your chances of staying trim?
New research shows that maintaining weight loss may be improved through regular contact with someone who can help keep you accountable
In a research study published in the journal Obesity , scientists found that people who received regular telephone calls with a specialist could better overcome barriers to weight maintenance, and keep weight off more successfully than people who did not receive regular counseling.
LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center was one of four U.S. sites that participated in the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial, aimed at comparing three different strategies for maintaining weight loss. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
During phase one of the study, volunteers participated in a six-month weight loss program. Those who lost more than 8.8 pounds during that time continued on to phase two of the program, a two and a half year weight maintenance phase. During those two and a half years, participants were assigned to one of three groups.
The first group was encouraged to continue using the tools they received during the weight loss phase —calorie counting, adherence to the DASH diet and physical activity monitoring. The second group had around-the-clock access to a website where they could check in regularly to report their weight status and receive advice. The third group received monthly telephone calls from an interventionist who provided motivational counseling and helped participants try to overcome barriers to maintaining their weight.
At the end of those two and a half years of weight maintenance, researchers found that without personal
contact, participants tended to regain lost weight; while participants with access to personal help and support kept the weight off better than the other two groups. Continuing personal support beyond two and a half years did not further improve weight maintenance.
The concept of personal motivation and support in maintaining weight loss may seem elementary. “After decades of research, scientists have learned how to produce highly effective methods for weight loss, but we still have not completely cracked the code on maintaining that weight loss. This study provides a foundation for us to move forward in improving ways in which we help people prevent weight regain,” said Dr. Phil Brantley, associate executive director for scientific education at Pennington Biomedical and an author on this study,
“This study is unique in that it had one of the largest and most diverse populations to take part in it. We looked at weight maintenance among people of varying genders, races, ages and risk factors. It was also one of the longest-running studies of its kind, so it provided us with a closer look at how different weight loss strategies can work over time,” added Brantley.
Pennington Biomedical is continuing its work to better understand the triggers of chronic disease such as obesity, and seek sound strategies for losing weight and keeping it off. For more information on how you can volunteer for one of Pennington Biomedical’s research studies, please visit www.pbrc.edu/healthierLA or call 225-763-3000.
Dr. Phillip Brantley is the Associate Executive Director for Scientific Education for Pennington Biomedical Research Center. He earned his bachelor of science degree from Georgia College and State University,
Masters and Ph.D., University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 1980, Clinical Psychology, and completed his clinical psychology internship at Medical University of South Carolina and Charleston VAMC. His research interests include Weight loss techniques that promote long term weight management and their impact on biomarkers and health outcomes.