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Obes Res. 1995 Sep;3 Suppl 2:249s-259s.

Who are the weight maintainers?

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  • 1Nutrition Education and Research Program, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno 89557, USA.


To characterize people who maintain weight over long periods of time, normal weight and obese adults (n = 385) were studied over five annual visits. Subjects were classified using a +/- 5 lb change between the first and the fifth year visits to determine overall maintenance (M), with gain (G) or loss (L) being any change outside this range. This MGL status was cross-tabulated with a Fluctuation Index which counted the number of successive year-to-year weight changes of more than +/- 5 lbs (F0 through F4). True maintainers were defined as those having all weight changes within +/- 5 lbs during the 5-year period (M and F0). Nineteen percent (n = 73) of the subjects were classified as True Maintainers and included three times as many normal weight as obese subjects. Obese subjects comprised only 25% of the True Maintainer group but 60% of the Non-Maintainer group. Age had no association with Maintainer status. Standard measures of weight variability were lowest among True Maintainers and highest in Non-Maintainers. In addition, True Maintainers had lower BMI, Percent Body Fat, and Waist-Hip Ratios than Non-Maintainers. Subjects classified as Non-Maintainers were more likely to engage in dieting, by a variety of measures, than True Maintainers--this was particularly true among obese subjects. Finally, changes in total cholesterol, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were not reliably associated with Maintainer status, although the ordering of the group means suggested that True Maintainers had slightly healthier levels of "risk" variables. Overall, the results suggest that True Maintainers comprise a potentially important and interesting group of individuals who need further study.

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