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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Oct;40(10):1781-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817d8176.

Weight regain is related to decreases in physical activity during weight loss.

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Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.



To examine whether adaptations in physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) and resting metabolic rate (RMR) during weight loss were associated with future weight regain in overweight/obese, older women.


Thirty-four overweight/obese (BMI = 25-40 kg x m(-2)), postmenopausal women underwent a 20-wk weight loss intervention of hypocaloric diet with (low- or high-intensity) or without treadmill walking (weekly caloric deficit was approximately 11,760 kJ), with a subsequent 12-month follow-up. RMR (via indirect calorimetry), PAEE (by RT3 accelerometer), and body composition (by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) were measured before and after intervention. Body weight and self-reported information on physical activity were collected after intervention and at 6 and 12 months after intervention.


The intervention resulted in decreases in body weight, lean mass, fat mass, percent body fat, RMR, and PAEE (P < 0.001 for all). Weight regain was 2.9 +/- 3.3 kg (-3.1 to +9.2 kg) at 6 months and 5.2 +/- 5.0 kg (-2.3 to +21.7 kg) at 12 months after intervention. The amount of weight regained after 6 and 12 months was inversely associated with decreases in PAEE during the weight loss intervention (r = -0.521, P = 0.002 and r = -0.404, P = 0.018, respectively), such that women with larger declines in PAEE during weight loss experienced greater weight regain during follow-up. Weight regain was not associated with changes in RMR during intervention or with self-reported physical activity during follow-up.


This study demonstrates that although both RMR and PAEE decreased during weight loss in postmenopausal women, maintaining high levels of daily physical activity during weight loss may be important to mitigate weight regain after weight loss.

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