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NHLBI Obesity Research

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Weight Loss Maintenance Trial (WLM)

The Weight Loss Maintenance (WLM) Trial compared three different strategies for maintaining weight among 1,685 overweight or obese adults with high blood pressure or high cholesterol or both. Of those, 1,032 lost an average of 18.7 pounds during an initial six-month weight loss intervention involving 20 weekly group-counseling sessions which emphasized a heart-healthy dietary pattern and three hours per week of physical activity. They were then randomly assigned to one of three strategies for weight loss maintenance: monthly personal counseling on diet and physical activity, a Web-based intervention with the same advice, and self-direction, where participants received minimal further intervention from study staff. Personal counseling sessions were brief and mainly by telephone. The Web site was developed to provide the same advice as personal counseling. Both interventions were designed to be practical to implement in a variety of settings.

At the end of the study, participants receiving personal counseling retained an average weight loss of 9.2 pounds, compared to an average of 7.3 pounds for those using the Web-based intervention and 6.4 pounds for those in the self-directed group. Most people in the study regained at least some of the weight they initially lost. However, both the personal counseling and the Web-based program modestly alleviated weight regain for up to two years, with the personal counseling ultimately proving to be the most beneficial by the end of the study.

The study was conducted at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

Selected References:

Svetkey LP, Stevens VJ, Brantley PJ, et al. Comparison of strategies for sustaining weight loss: the weight loss maintenance randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2008;299:1139-48.

Study Website:

WLM Study Websiteimage of external icon

Press Release:

Personal Counseling and Web-Based Strategies Show Modest Success for Sustaining Weight Loss, According to NHLBI Study

Last Updated March 2011


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