A study suggests that repeated attempts to lose weight should be avoided

A recent study from the University of Eastern Finland showed that individuals who had repeatedly tried to lose weight had a higher BMI than those who had not previously tried to lose weight.

In addition to a higher BMI, individuals who repeatedly tried to lose weight reported a greater tendency to intentionally restrict food intake in order to control weight, and more uncontrolled eating with a tendency to overeat, compared to those who had not previously attempted weight loss. The study explored weight management among Finnish adults with special reference to history of weight loss, which is defined as the number of attempts to lose weight during an individual’s lifetime.

The researchers studied the relationships between history of weight loss and lifelong eating behavior tendencies, ie: cognitive restriction of eating, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating, as well as anthropometric traits such as body mass index and waist circumference, and metabolic characteristics, such as plasma insulin and cholesterol. Additionally, the study explored the motivations behind individual weight management efforts, the barriers that challenge these efforts, and common strategies for achieving weight goals.

Data were collected within two projects. In the Kuluma (Consumers in a Weight Management Marketplace) project, 2,346 participants were contacted either in a two supermarket entrance hall or via an online survey. The StopDia On the other hand, the study included 2,684 adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and its data consisted of measurements collected before and after a lifestyle intervention aimed at reducing risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In both projects, the history of loss of Weight for life by asking “Have you tried to lose weight in your lifetime?”. The answers could be “No,” “No, but I have been trying to keep my weight stable,” “Yes, 1-2 times,” “Yes, 3 or more times,” and “Yes, continuously.”

StopDia participants who reported several previous attempts to lose weight also showed greater waist circumference. Additionally, those who tried to lose weight more often reported eating more emotional eating, which is defined as the tendency to overeat in response to negative emotions, compared to those who had not tried to lose weight previously. Instead, those who did not attempt to lose weight showed a significant decrease in fasting plasma insulin concentrations after the 1-year lifestyle intervention.

According to the study, the most important motivating factors for weight management were maintaining mobility, health and well-being. Physical exercise and attention to the type of food eaten were the most frequently used strategies for weight management. Enjoyment of eating and sweets, and lack of self-discipline have been reported to be the most significant barriers to weight management.

Participants can be categorized into three different groups based on motivations, barriers, and weight management strategies: 42% were categorized as ‘struggling’, 34% as ‘independent’ and 24% as ‘determined’. The least and most “designed” ‘stumbled’ appeared to be the most successful in weight management, with the ‘fight’ group scoring the highest body mass index and lowest weight satisfaction, and they viewed barriers to weight management as the most powerful. . On the other hand, People of Determination scored the lowest BMI, highest satisfaction for weight, and perceived barriers to be less detrimental to their weight management efforts.

Repeated attempts to lose weight should be avoided

Globally, the prevalence of obesity is steadily increasing.

“Nowadays, people are well aware of the health consequences of being overweight such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. Besides ideal thinness at the same time, trying to lose weight has become a common practice in society. Since most weight loss results are short-term and do not last Over time, frequent attempts to lose weight occur,” said doctoral researcher Varanak Halali of the University of Eastern Finland, presenting the results of her doctoral thesis.

Obesity is a chronic disease that must be treated with a customized approach like any other chronic disease. Managing obesity requires lifelong adjustments to individuals’ daily routines, which require identification of factors that have the potential to influence weight management.

Frequent attempts to lose weight should be avoided because of their potential negative associations with less favorable eating behaviors and anthropometric and metabolic measures, as well as less benefit from lifestyle modifications.”

Varanak Hilali, PhD researcher, University of Eastern Finland

However, it remains unclear whether repeated attempts to lose weight are a cause or a consequence of these results. Therefore, healthcare professionals should discuss with their clients whether weight loss is healthily necessary, as well as their clients’ current resources and motivations for losing weight.

Varanak Halali concludes, “Next, an appropriate and concrete plan based on evidence-based strategies for long-term weight management should be developed, bearing in mind the potential negative consequences of repeated weight loss attempts.”


University of Eastern Finland (UEF Viestintä)

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