Rapid Weight Loss Yields Better Results



We’ve all heard the adage “slow and steady wins the race” but new research indicates that for weight loss, moving fast may yield better results.

For years, obese people have been counseled that gradual weight loss is better, but in reality, the data on the subject has been mixed.  A recent study published online in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine provides more evidence that rapid initial weight loss may actually be best.

The study followed 262 middle-aged obese women who were part of the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings (TOURS) trial.  The women took part in a a six-month lifestyle program, and spent an additional year in an extended care program involving group sessions, telephone contact or newsletters.

Researchers analyzed the data by dividing the women into three groups according to how quickly they lost weight.  They then examined their weight loss from 6-18 months after the 6-month lifestyle program – the time they were involved in the extended care program.

Interestingly, fast weight losers lost more weight overall, maintained their weight loss for longer and were not more likely to put weight back on than the more gradual weight losers. Women in the slow weight loss group fared the worst, with women in the moderate group being almost three times more likely to achieve 10% weight loss after 18 months, and women in the fast group  being 5 times more likely to reach this goal.

The study results indicate that obese women who want to lose weight should dive right in and make big lifestyle changes up front.  Getting a quick start will not make them more likely to make their weight yo-yo up and down as is often feared.

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Reference:

  1. Nackers LM et al. The association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term success in obesity treatment: does slow and steady win the race? International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. May 2010. DOI 10.1007/s12529-010-9092-y

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