GAINESVILLE, Fla., May 7 (UPI) -- The best way to keep weight off long term is to lose it quickly, not gradually, in the initial stages of obesity treatment, U.S. researchers said.
Lisa Nackers and colleagues at the University of Florida analyzed data for 262 middle-aged obese women who took part in the Treatment of Obesity in Underserved Rural Settings trial.
The women followed a six-month lifestyle program encouraging eating fewer calories and increasing the intensity of physical activity to achieve an average weight loss of 1 pound per week. One year later, the women were contacted twice a month in the form of group sessions, telephone contact or newsletters.
Nackers divided the women into three groups according to the first month's weight loss.
Women in the fast group lost 1.5 pounds per week, those in the moderate group lost between one-half pound and 1.5 pounds per week, and women in the slow group lost less than one-half pound per week in that first month.
The study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, found among those who maintained weight loss long term, women in the fast group were five times more likely to maintain 10 percent weight loss at 18 months.