Habit-based interventions effective for maintaining weight loss

Gina Cleo

Habit-based weight-loss interventions — either forming new habits or breaking old ones — may aid in achieving long-term weight-loss maintenance in adults with overweight or obesity, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

“Maintaining weight loss is often the hardest part of the weight-loss journey, yet it was successfully achieved by our participants on the habit-based programs, without the need for dieting or strenuous exercise,” Gina Cleo, PhD, research fellow at Bond University, Australia, and accredited practicing dietitian, told Endocrine Today. “Habit-based interventions have the potential to change how we think about weight management and, importantly, how we behave.”

Researchers recruited 75 adults aged 18 to 75 years with overweight or obesity (BMI 25 kg/m2; mean age, 51 years) to participate in a single-blind, three-arm, randomized controlled trial conducted at Bond University, Institute of Health and Sport in Gold Coast, Australia. Researchers randomly assigned participants to one of two habit-based weight-loss intervention groups (“Ten Top Tips” or “Do Something Different”) or to a waitlist control group, which included no intervention or weight-loss advice. Ten Top Tips was a self-guided intervention based on a leaflet and focused on forming new eating and activity behaviors. Do Something Different focused on breaking unhealthy behaviors and was implemented through online software. The trial was conducted for 12 weeks from July to October 2015 with all groups followed up after the intervention; the intervention groups were also followed up at 6 and 12 months.

At the post-intervention follow-up, researchers found that participants in the Ten Top Tips group and the Do Something Different Group lost more weight than those in the waitlist control group (–3.3 kg and –2.9 kg, respectively vs. –0.4 kg; P < .001). At the 12-month follow-up, Ten Top Tips participants lost an additional 2.4 kg, and Do Something Different participants lost an additional 1.7 kg; 65% of participants in both intervention groups had lost at least 5% of their baseline body weight. In addition, intervention group participants saw improvements in BMI, waist circumference, daily fruit and vegetable consumption, weekly exercise, and reported well-being, depression and anxiety from baseline.

“Habit-based weight-loss interventions could make a cost-effective contribution to the health improvements of individuals with overweight or obesity,” Cleo said. “They could also offer health practitioners a simple and time-efficient weight-loss intervention.” by Melissa J. Webb

For more information:

Gina Cleo, PhD, can be reached at gcleo@bond.edu.au.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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