Lessons from obesity management programmes: greater initial weight loss improves long-term maintenance


  • Address reprint requests to: A Astrup, Research Department of Human Nutrition, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Rolighedsvej 30, DK-1958 Frederiksberg, Denmark. E-mail: ast@kvl.dk


It is a common belief that weight loss achieved at a slow rate is better preserved than if the weight is lost more rapidly. However, the literature shows that initial weight loss is positively, not negatively, related to long-term weight maintenance. There is evidence from randomised intervention trials to support that a greater initial weight loss induced without changes in lifestyle e.g. liquid formula diets or anorectic drugs) improves long-term weight maintenance, providing it is followed by a 1–2 years integrated weight maintenance programme consisting of lifestyle interventions involving dietary change, nutritional education, behaviour therapy and increased physical activity. In conclusion, we find evidence to suggest that a greater initial weight loss as the first step of a weight management programme may result in improved sustained weight maintenance.