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Guidelines on Overweight and Obesity: Electronic Textbook
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Management of Weight Loss

Graphic of reducing baseline weight by 10 percent in 6 monthsThe initial goal of weight loss therapy is to reduce body weight by approximately 10 percent from baseline. If this goal is achieved, further weight loss can be attempted, if indicated through further evaluation. A reasonable timeline for a 10 percent reduction in body weight is 6 months of therapy.

After 6 months, the rate of weight loss usually declines and weight plateaus because of less energy expenditure at the lower weight. Lost weight usually will be regained unless a weight maintenance program consisting of dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy is continued indefinitely. After 6 months of weight loss treatment, efforts to maintain weight loss should be put in place. If more weight loss is needed, another attempt at weight reduction can be made. This will require further adjustment of the diet and physical activity prescriptions.

For patients unable to achieve significant weight reduction, prevention of further weight gain is an important goal; such patients may also need to participate in a weight management program. Priority should be given to reducing saturated fat to enhance lowering of LDL-cholesterol levels. Frequent contacts with the practitioner during dietary therapy help to promote weight loss and weight maintenance at a lower weight.

An increase in physical activity is an important component of weight loss therapy, although it will not lead to substantially greater weight loss over 6 months. Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake. Sustained physical activity is most helpful in the prevention of weight regain. In addition, it has a benefit in reducing cardiovascular and diabetes risks beyond that produced by weight reduction alone. For most obese patients, exercise should be initiated slowly, and the intensity should be increased gradually. The exercise can be done all at one time or intermittently over the day.

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