Original Article

International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 519–526; doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803769; published online 4 December 2007

Weight maintenance, behaviors and barriers among previous participants of a university-based weight control program

C A Befort1, E E Stewart2, B K Smith2, C A Gibson3, D K Sullivan4 and J E Donnelly2

  1. 1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA
  2. 2Energy Balance Laboratory, Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA
  4. 4Department of Dietetics and Nutrition, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA

Correspondence: Dr CA Befort, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, MS 1008, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA. E-mail: cbefort@kumc.edu

Received 22 May 2007; Revised 14 October 2007; Accepted 21 October 2007; Published online 4 December 2007.





To examine weight loss maintenance among previous participants of a university-based behavioral weight management program and to compare behavioral strategies and perceived barriers between successful and unsuccessful maintainers.



Previous program participants (n=179) completed mailed surveys assessing current weight, weight control behaviors and perceived barriers to weight loss maintenance.



At 14.1±10.8 months following completion of treatment, survey respondents were on average 12.6±12.6kg, or 11.3±10.7%, below baseline weight; 76.5% of respondents had successfully maintained weight, defined as maintaining a weight loss of at least 5% below baseline. Compared to unsuccessful maintainers, successful maintainers reported practicing four dietary and three physical activity weight control strategies more often and experiencing five barriers to healthy eating and exercise less often. After accounting for time since treatment and maximum weight loss while in treatment, the strongest correlates of successful weight loss maintenance were frequent exercise and perceived difficulty of weight management.



Clinically meaningful weight loss maintenance was achieved by the majority of participants. Findings support the literature indicating that physical activity is one of the strongest predictors of successful weight loss maintenance. Findings also suggest that strategies to reduce the level of perceived effort required for long-term weight control may improve maintenance outcomes.


obesity treatment, weight loss maintenance, survey follow-up

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