So many of us try to diet, then after some successful weight loss, we find ourselves struggling not to gain it back. Why is it so hard to keep the weight off once you have lost it?
This very topic was at the heart of a report titled “Innovative Research to Improve Maintenance of Weight Loss,” which was published in the journal Obesity. The report was authored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group, which compiled their information by combining the perspectives of various obesity experts.
The researchers identified differences, from genetics to behaviors among individuals, which are considered primary factors in long-term weight control after weight loss. Because of these differences, there is no singular solution that will work consistently for all people. Rather, the researchers suggest individualized approaches to weight loss and maintenance.
The NIH report comes on the heels of a conference on the subject that included experts in genetics, endocrinology, integrative physiology, as well as behavioral and cognitive sciences.
An individualized approach is needed
According to Myles Faith, PhD, Chair of the Bio-Behavioral Research Section of The Obesity Society (TOS), “understanding individual differences in treatment response requires expertise in biology and behavior. Seasoned clinicians, who are keenly observing and working to harness the strengths of individual patients every day, are an integral piece of the puzzle. Individual responses to treatment are at the scientific ‘heart’ of the matter for understanding weight-loss maintenance.”
In their commentary to the report, TOS past presidents, George Bray, MD, of Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Thomas Wadden, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, expressed that individualized strategies for losing weight were the biggest issue identified by the working group to bring together basic and clinical sciences when targeting challenges of obesity.
In their commentary, Drs. Bray and Wadden state, “in all weight loss trials, whether behavioral, dietary, exercise or pharmacological, some individuals lose a great deal of weight, others an average amount, and some even gain weight.”
They go on to say that a personalized method of treatment is essential and should incorporate societal and political actions. They called for changes in activity environments and food, because it is currently felt that these worsen the struggle for individuals battling with weight loss and maintenance.
The NIH working group report calls for identifying barriers to weight loss success, re-examination of past successful strategies, and innovative new solutions for possible employment in the future of long-term weight control research.
Other recommendations by the working group include:
Improving programs of physical activity to increase success.
Strategy development for increased impulse eating control and decreased perception of food as a reward.
Utilizing technology and social media networks to engage people and keep them goal focused.
All in all, the best way to keep off the pounds you have lost is to see your success as a lifelong process. You can’t go back to unhealthy habits once you’ve reached your ideal weight; maintaining your healthy diet, exercise routine and stress-relief activities is essential to staying fit once you’ve achieved it.
-The Alternative Daily