Scientists from University Hospital found that three-quarters of adults with obesity have attempted to lose weight in the past year, but most have been unsuccessful.
The finding is based on a survey of adults with obesity from six Western European countries.
The study highlights the struggle people with obesity endure trying to lose weight, and sheds new light on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to losing weight.
The research was conducted by Dr. Marc Evans et al.
In the study, the team collected data in the past year from adults (aged 18 years or older) with obesity (BMI 30 kg/m² or higher) in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
In total, 1,850 people with obesity who reported using primary or secondary healthcare services in the past 12 months were included in the analyses.
Over half of the participants were in obesity class I, more than a quarter were in obesity class II and just under a fifth were in obesity class III.
The team found that 79% of respondents reported attempting to lose weight in the past year; the proportion was similar across obesity classes.
The most common weight loss methods were calorie-controlled or restricted diets, exercise programs or courses, and pharmaceutical treatments.
However, three-quarters of participants who attempted to lose weight within the past year did not achieve a clinically meaningful weight loss defined as at least 5% of their body weight.
The degree of success varied greatly between weight loss strategies—with just under a third of respondents reporting clinically meaningful weight loss from using a weight loss service or taking a pharmaceutical treatment.
However, a third of respondents also reported gaining weight (more than 5% their bodyweight) despite attempts at various weight loss strategies.
The team found that exercise and calorie-controlled or restricted diets were the least beneficial, with respect to achieving clinically meaningful weight loss with only around 20% of respondents achieving this level of weight loss using these approaches.
While weight loss surgery is currently considered the most effective approach to clinically significant weight reduction, very few respondents in the study had undergone any weight-loss surgical procedures.
Among respondents from the UK, calorie-controlled or restricted diets and exercise programs or courses were the most common weight-loss strategies (see table in notes to editors).
The researchers say that further research is needed to explore how successful individuals who lose weight are at maintaining this weight loss.
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