_PUBLIC HEALTH Obesity

_Slow and Steady

Shedding consistent pounds each week is linked to long-term weight loss.

_Michael Lowe

Lowe is a professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences who studies the psychobiology of eating and weight regulation.

_Emily Feig

Feig ’17 is a clinical research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Trying to lose weight? Aim for consistency. That’s what principal investigator Michael Lowe and lead author Emily Feig found was associated with the best maintenance of weight lost in a weight loss program.

Out of 183 participants, those whose weights fluctuated the most during the initial weeks of a behavioral weight loss program ultimately had poorer weight loss outcomes both one and two years later, compared with those who lost consistent weight each week. For example, someone whose weight yo-yo’d over the course of several weeks tended to fare worse than someone who lost one pound consistently each week for three weeks.

“It seems that developing stable, repeatable behaviors related to food intake and weight loss early on in a weight control program is really important for maintaining changes over the long term,” says Feig.

Hesitant to equate correlation and causation in this case, Lowe said the study illuminates a potential method for sticking to weight loss goals.

“Settle on a weight loss plan that you can maintain week in and week out, even if that means consistently losing ¾ of a pound each week,” he says.