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Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Keeping the Pounds Off: What Works

Daily Weigh-Ins, Group Meetings May Help Prevent Weight Regain
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 11, 2006 -- Have you shed some extra pounds? A new medical study provides tips for keeping the weight off.

People who weigh daily and meet regularly with others trying to maintain a new, lower weight are more successful, according to the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"Most dieters regain about a third of the weight lost during the next year and are typically back to baseline [their pre-diet weight] in 3 to 5 years," write Rena Wing, PhD, and colleagues.

Her study looked at ways to prevent that.

Wing is a Brown University professor of psychiatry and human behavior. She directs the Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Wing also co-founded the National Weight Control Registry, which includes more than 5,000 adults who have maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for one year or longer.

Preventing Weight Regain

Wing's team studied 314 adults who had lost at least 10% of their body weight over the previous two years.

The researchers split the participants into three groups. Each group followed a different weight-loss maintenance program for 18 months.

One group met face-to-face every week.

Another group followed the same meeting schedule but held their meetings online, not in person. They received a laptop computer and an Internet connection, if needed.

For comparison, the third group never held meetings. Instead, those participants received quarterly newsletters about diet, exercise, and weight control.

People in the online and in-person meeting groups got other support as well.

They were encouraged to weigh themselves daily, exercise for an hour a day, and follow a healthy diet. They also reported their weight weekly and were coached on weight control.

All participants were weighed six, 12, and 18 months into the study.

Green, Yellow, Red Zones

The researchers color-coded weight gain for participants in the online and in-person meeting groups.

Those who gained less than 3 pounds were in the "green zone." They got green gifts, such as green tea or a one-dollar bill, as encouragement.

If they gained 3 to 5 pounds, they were in the "yellow zone" and were told to work on getting back into the green zone.

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