Experts Weigh in on How to Keep the Pounds Off

Weight loss may be hard to maintain, but new approaches could help

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) In weight loss, the real challenge may come not from shedding the pounds, but from keeping them off. New suggestions from a panel of experts could help people who have lost weight keep the pounds off.

Those suggestions were summarized in a new report. Among them were personalized weight-management plans and a call to researchers to study what diet plans work best and how to keep patients exercising regularly.

“Despite advancements in our understanding of obesity, weight regain after weight loss remains the most substantial problem in obesity treatment — with both the body and the mind conspiring against individual efforts to maintain weight loss," said Paul S. MacLean, PhD, of the Department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, in a press release.

"There are many differences in individuals ranging from genetic to behavioral that lead some to do well on one approach, whereas others do not. Therefore, what works for a friend or coworker may be very different from a weight-loss program that’s most effective and sustainable for you over the long term.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored a workshop of experts in the field of weight management. Also present were scientists in fields like genetics, endocrinology, and behavioral and cognitive sciences. The authors of the current study, Dr. MacLean and Rena R. Wing, PhD, gave the expert group three goals: to identify challenges to keeping weight off, to review strategies that have been successful and to recommend new solutions that could be evaluated in further research

The expert panel recommended new approaches to the problem of regaining lost weight. Suggestions included personalized medicine, changes in medications, food engineering and technological strategies.

The work group said obesity researchers should do the following:

  • Study how exercise can promote weight loss and prevent weight regain
  • Study how to improve patients’ adherence to exercise programs
  • Evaluate specific dietary strategies like meal patterns or practices like fasting to help prevent weight regain

The work group also noted that health workers need to improve understanding of the many factors that affect weight loss and gain. For instance, biology, behavior and environment all affect a person’s ability to lose weight. Health care professionals should call on various disciplines, such as medicine, pharmacology and psychology, to address weight loss needs, the group said.

Also, the work group suggested dietary strategies to help patients select foods that will keep them from regaining weight. This could include food engineering for maximum nutrition with minimum calories.

Health care professionals should treat each patient as an individual, with unique characteristics, the expert panel said. In other words, they should tailor weight loss strategies to fit the person.

Technology and social networking could be an option to support patients, too, Dr. MacLean and team found. Smartphones, for instance, could provide patients with weight loss information and keep them engaged in their health efforts.

This report was published online Dec. 11 in the journal Obesity.

The NIH funded the work group. The study authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
December 19, 2014
Last Updated:
March 16, 2015