Before I discuss the main topic of weight loss maintenance, it would help to give you a brief overview of obesity. The world is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. In my post ‘What is obesity – is it merely about BMI?‘ I had defined obesity as “excessive body fat accumulation (not weighing too much), which is associated with clear risks to health.” In my post, Is obesity a disease or risk factor for other conditions? I had discussed the magnitude of obesity and had also highlighted that today most of the major international and national health organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), World Obesity Federation, and American Medical Association recognise obesity as a disease. In my post Complications of Obesity: the mother of all diseases I had discussed how obesity affects almost every aspect of health, from reproductive and respiratory function to memory and mood; it decreases both the lifespan and the quality of life and increases costs of health care, both at the individual as well as at the national level.
However, rather than considering obesity in a conventional way, one aspect that needs serious consideration is that normal weight doesn’t always equal ‘healthy weight’. In my post ‘Normal Weight Obesity – a myth or a reality? I had described individuals who have weight within normal limits according to the BMI but have a high body fat percentage and are predisposed to the same health risks as in ‘obesity’. Another worrying trend is the increasing incidence of Childhood obesity.
Lifestyle modifications encompassing dieting, physical activity and behavioural modifications often lead to weight loss. However, over the long term, the vast majority of individuals regain the weight they have lost. The trajectory of weight change during/after behavioural weight management interventions mostly follow a typical pattern; the obesity interventions typically result in early rapid weight loss followed by a weight plateau and then progressive regain. Thus, the main challenge of obesity treatment is not weight loss, but long-term weight loss maintenance.Continue reading