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Learning Weight-Maintenance Skills Helps to Keep Weight Off

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It's not about cutting calories. It's about weight-loss education.

That's the message from a recent Stanford study on women and weight management.

The study showed that women who spent the first eight weeks of a weight-loss program mastering "weight-maintenance skills" ended up losing more weight--and keeping it off--than women who immediately jumped into a routine weight-loss regime.

For women battling eating disorders, the research sheds light on an important concept: It's impossible to be perfect, but paying what researchers call "relaxed attention" to the scale and making educated choices about food puts women in a better position to ultimately maintain a healthy weight.

Details of the study

The study followed two groups of women. The first group immediately began a 20-week behavioral weight-loss program using proven diet strategies and common sense tactics, such as exercise and healthier eating. The second group spent the first eight weeks learning a set of lifestyle stability skills: learning how to find low-calorie or low-fat foods that tasted the same as unhealthy foods, daily weigh-ins to help the women see how normal weight fluctuations work, learning to savor small amounts of indulgent foods and identifying a 5-pound weight range that could help them account for things like overeating on holidays or vacations.

A year after completing the program, the women who had gone through the eight-week education period only gained back about three pounds, compared to seven pounds from the other group.

Implications for women

Lead author of the study, Michaela Kiernan, PhD, says that women who develop a foundation of healthy skills when it comes to weight maintenance can cultivate a more positive sense of body image. They can also learn how to make small adjustments in their diet that don't require them to engage in unhealthy or dangerous habits:

"We wanted to see if there was a way to help people get away from this all-or-nothing approach that is associated with losing weight," said Kiernan.

And while the study did not include participants who had binge-eating disorders, researchers are excited to try similar studies with women in different, more diverse subgroups.

Source: Science Daily

Comments

This is a fascinating study

This is a fascinating study and the patients I have discussed it with say that the "warm-up," as it were, makes them feel more confident both of sticking with the weight loss plan and maintenance. Starting a diet can be a terrifying prospect and recent science has demonstrated the relation between stress and weight gain (especially the lethal abdominal fat). There is much to commend in Dr. Kiernan's study and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.