Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain

Authors


K Elfhag, Obesity Unit, M73, Karolinska University Hospital, SE-141 86 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail: Kristina.Elfhag@medhs.ki.se

Summary

Weight loss is difficult to achieve and maintaining the weight loss is an even greater challenge. The identification of factors associated with weight loss maintenance can enhance our understanding for the behaviours and prerequisites that are crucial in sustaining a lowered body weight. In this paper we have reviewed the literature on factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. We have used a definition of weight maintenance implying intentional weight loss that has subsequently been maintained for at least 6 months. According to our review, successful weight maintenance is associated with more initial weight loss, reaching a self-determined goal weight, having a physically active lifestyle, a regular meal rhythm including breakfast and healthier eating, control of over-eating and self-monitoring of behaviours. Weight maintenance is further associated with an internal motivation to lose weight, social support, better coping strategies and ability to handle life stress, self-efficacy, autonomy, assuming responsibility in life, and overall more psychological strength and stability. Factors that may pose a risk for weight regain include a history of weight cycling, disinhibited eating, binge eating, more hunger, eating in response to negative emotions and stress, and more passive reactions to problems.

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