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Keywords:

  • obesity;
  • qualitative;
  • weight maintenance;
  • weight management;
  • weight loss

Abstract

Background:  In clinical weight-loss trials, the majority of those who lose weight will regain almost all of it within 5 years, yet there is limited evidence about effective strategies to support weight maintenance. The present study aimed to increase understanding of the experiences of those who have been successful at weight maintenance.

Methods:  This qualitative study used a phenomenological approach. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a purposive sample of 10 participants who had maintained a minimum of 10% weight loss for at least 1 year. Interviews were transcribed and then analysed using a foundational thematic approach based on the Colaizzi method.

Results:  Participants believed that a more relaxed approach to weight management with realistic, long-term goals was more appropriate for long-term control. They had a strong reason to lose weight often with a medical trigger and had elicited support to help them. Most described the presence of saboteurs. Participants took personal responsibility for their weight management and were in tune with their nutrition and activity needs. Self-monitoring was a strategy commonly used to support this. They described the lack of positive reinforcement in the maintenance phase as a major difficulty.

Conclusions:  This small-scale study provides evidence to suggest the importance of a medical prompt to lose weight; planning for how to manage saboteurs and identifying methods of minimising the impact of a reduction in positive reinforcement. It reinforces the importance of many of the strategies known to support the weight-loss phase.