Study Shows that “Just Don’t Gain” Effective for Modest Weight Loss

Outcome suggests stopping gain may increase marginal loss and avoidance of obesity

For those who have tried to drop more than just a few pounds and were disappointed with the difficulty of gaining quality results, a new study may help you feel a bit better.

Researchers from Duke University have found that when focusing on the concept of gaining weight, rather than losing it, people were more likely to stay committed to a longer-term plan to avoid the “weight creep” that worries so many. The idea is that the creeping addition of weight over time is problematic, much like the frog in boiling water scenario.

Duke researcher looked at 194 premenopausal African-American women who were overweight or at the stage known as “class 1 obese”. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80% of black women are considered overweight or obese, as compared to white women at 60% overall.

The average age of the participants were 35.4 years and had a BMI of 30.2. Participants were told the activity they were participating in was not a weight-loss study, and that the goal was a lifestyle change that would focus on maintaining weight.

Participants were then taught about better food choices, trimming calories off of meals, lightly boosting daily activities, and generally participating in daily activities while self-monitoring one’s self. The test was held over a 12-month period, and participants received a series of goals to help with moderate calorie deficit and avoid gain in weight. Monthly counseling was also provided to help the individuals focus their efforts.

The dropout rate was very low after the 12- and 18-month periods, and 62% of the group were below their baseline weight by those points, this as compared to the control group at 45% without some of the supplemental aid of the former group.

Just over half (53%) of the study group sustained the below-baseline after a year-and-a-half following the study, as compared to 38.5% of the control group.

The study thus points to the notion that those who simply seek to “just not gain” may have a better time keeping off weight (or even losing some) as opposed to those who are told to “lose weight” from the onset.


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