Even partial weight loss intervention adherence can pay dividends
medwireNews: Less than perfect attendance at commercial weight loss programs does not consign participants to failure, study findings show.
“These findings may help [healthcare providers] have realistic expectations for their patients’ adherence, while still encouraging high levels of adherence,” say the researchers.
The team found that a minimum two-thirds attendance at a Weight Watchers program over 6 months was associated with loss of at least 10% of the participants’ starting bodyweight.
However, “the results are not generalizable to all interventions as programs may differ in their modes of access,” caution Craig Johnston (University of Houston, Texas, USA) and study co-authors.
“In addition, adherence may differ for maintaining weight loss over a longer period of time,” they write in the International Journal of Obesity.
Their conclusions are based on an analysis of 147 overweight or obese people who were randomly assigned to the Weight Watchers intervention in a clinical trial comparing the intervention with self-help. During the trial, 18.4% of the participants lost at least 5% but less than 10% of their starting bodyweight, and 19.7% lost at least 10%.
The team found that meeting this higher, clinically significant weight loss threshold was associated with attending at least 15.5 weekly meetings over 6 months, or at least 64.5% of all meetings.
The participants were also encouraged to access online resources that included food, activity, and weight-monitoring systems, recipes, and discussion boards. Losing at least 10% of their weight was associated with using the website on at least 41.6% of days and the mobile application on at least 14.7% of days.
The thresholds for weight loss of at least 5% but less than 10% were 35.4% of group sessions attended and use of the website and mobile application on 25.2% and 16.1% of days, respectively.
Johnston and team found that attendance at the group sessions had a more powerful effect on weight loss than did use of the online resources, which they say is consistent with previous findings.
They note that it may not be wise to lower patients’ expectations about the degree of attendance necessary, and suggest that healthcare providers should “set high expectations, but accept less than perfect adherence.”
The team says: “This may result in behavioral weight loss programs becoming more appealing and sustainable for individuals interested in losing weight.”
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