Cal Poly professor co-authors research paper examining strategies for maintaining weight loss after recovery – Cal Poly News
A study published in the journal Obesity surveyed nearly 2,500 WeightWatchers members who lost an average of nearly 58 pounds and kept it off for over 3.5 years
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Science shows that weight regain over time is common, but a new study — co-authored by a Cal Poly faculty member — has gathered new data on effective strategies for recovering from weight loss. weight regain.
Suzanne Phelan — director of the Cal Poly Health Research Center and professor of kinesiology and public health in the College of Science and Mathematics — contributed to the article published Oct. 25 in Obesity, a peer-reviewed journal covering health and medical matters in association with weight-related matters. Phelan’s team surveyed thousands of WW (WeightWatchers) program participants.
The study used data from detailed questionnaires, distributed to participants from 2019 to 2020, which investigated behaviors, goals, successes and setbacks.
“It begs the very question, ‘How do people who have been able to maintain long-term weight loss do it?’ of parameters. “What can we learn from them to help others going through a similar journey be more successful?”
The main results of the study revealed that people who successfully maintained their weight loss: Resumed their weight loss efforts reactively after showing limited gains; frequently self-monitored; and used coping and problem-solving skills to get back on track.
The research was led by Jacqueline F. Hayes, assistant professor (research) and clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, and Center for Weight Control Research and diabetes, both in Providence, Rhode Island.
Assisting Hayes and Phelan were: Gary Foster, scientific director of WW, and adjunct professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine; Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Warren Alpert Medical School; and Noemi Alarcon, Cal Poly Corporation project coordinator and research associate.
The study evaluated 2,457 WW members who lost an average of 57.9 pounds and kept it off for over 3.5 years. The participants were part of the growing Center for Health Research WeightWatchers Global Success Registry who lost 20 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year. This study is part of ongoing research in this cohort to assess long-term weight loss maintenance behaviors.
Long-term weight maintainers who responded to the survey were categorized into three groups: 48% who maintained their weight loss (described as “stable”); 29% declared gains and losses (“gain-loss”); and 23% reported gradual recovery (“Gain”). The majority of participants (94.9%) were women with an average age of 60 years. The participants were between 49 and 71 years old.
Survey questions included: “What is the greatest amount of weight you have regained before resuming your weight loss efforts?” and “When you tried to re-lose that greater amount of weight, what was your main strategy?”
Respondents successfully used strategies such as: “logging calories; set a calorie goal; self-weighing and weight tracking; and follow-up exercise. Compared to those in the Winning group, Winning-Losing participants exhibited the following behaviors:
– Resuming weight loss efforts after a smaller amount of recovery (less than 8 pounds).
– Longer sustained weight loss efforts (16 weeks in the Gain-Lose group versus 10 weeks in the Gain group).
– Committed to more frequent self-weighing, self-monitoring and healthy food choices.
– Used more psychological coping mechanisms, such as self-reinforcement, problem solving, and restructuring negative thoughts.
Setbacks are inevitable along the journey, the researchers said, but implementing helpful thinking styles can help people get back on track.
“If the number goes up the scale, a negative thought would be ‘Oh, it’s hopeless; here we go again,” Phelan said. “Instead, this group of weight loss advocates are saying, ‘I’ve got this. It’s a setback, but it’s temporary.
The study expanded on Phelan’s previous work, including research on weight regain and the benefits of self-monitoring referenced in the New York Times article “How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off.” , based on its January 2020 obesity study that used validated questionnaires. identify new behavioral and psychological strategies among people who maintain weight loss in a commercial weight management program.
“Weight regains are inevitable along the journey, and the path to long-term success isn’t a straight line,” WW’s Foster said. “The results of this study showed that those who resumed weight loss began their efforts after lower weight regains. The results also reinforced that building helpful thought styles and healthy habits in along the way can help fuel the journey.
This research was supported by a grant from WW International Inc.; and Hayes’ work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
About the College of Mathematical Sciences
With approximately 2,800 undergraduate students and approximately 280 graduate students, the College of Science and Mathematics offers degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Kinesiology and Public Health, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Marine Science, Microbiology, and Biochemistry. The college is also home to the university’s undergraduate liberal studies program for prospective teachers and Cal Poly’s School of Post-Baccalaureate Education. Embracing Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing mission, the college is renowned for its outstanding undergraduate research and significant involvement in student co-authorship in scientific journal publications. Visit: cosam.calpoly.edu.
About Cal Poly
Located in San Luis Obispo, California, Cal Poly is known for its Learn by Doing philosophy. Each year, around 22,000 top students attend the university to put their knowledge into practice, learning outside the classroom as they prepare for careers in fields such as engineering, agriculture, science, business, humanities and the built environment. Cal Poly’s hands-on approach, small class sizes, and close student-faculty mentorships ensure graduates are ready from day one to make an impact in their communities, California, and the world. Visit: www.calpoly.edu.
Suzanne Phelan is director of the Center for Health Research at Cal Poly and a professor of kinesiology and public health in the College of Science and Mathematics.
Photo credit: Izzy Kelly
October 27, 2022
Contact: Nick Wilson
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