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Patient Prefer Adherence. 2009 Nov 3;3:151-60.

Adherence to a behavioral weight loss treatment program enhances weight loss and improvements in biomarkers.

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School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To describe participants' adherence to multiple components (attendance, energy intake, fat gram, exercise goals, and self-monitoring eating and exercise behaviors) of a standard behavioral treatment program (SBT) for weight loss and how adherence to these components may influence weight loss and biomarkers (triglycerides, low density lipoproteins [LDL], high density lipoprotein, and insulin) during the intensive and less-intensive intervention phases.


A secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial consisting of a SBT with either fat-restricted standard or lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. The 12-month intervention was delivered in 33 group sessions. The first six months reflected the intensive phase; the second six months, the less-intensive intervention phase. We conducted the analysis without regard to treatment assignment. Eligible participants included overweight/obese adults (N = 176; mean body mass index = 34.0 kg/m(2)). The sample was 86.9% female, 70.5% White, and 44.4 +/- 8.6 years old. The outcome measures included weight and biomarkers.


There was a significant decline in adherence to each treatment component over time (P < 0.0001). In the first six months, adherence to attendance, self-monitoring and the energy goal were significantly associated with greater weight loss (P < 0.05). Adherence to attendance and exercise remained significantly associated with weight loss in the second six months (P < 0.05). Adherence to attendance, self-monitoring and exercise had indirect effects through weight loss on LDL, triglycerides, and insulin (P < 0.05).


We observed a decline in adherence to each treatment component as the intervention intensity was reduced. Adherence to multiple treatment components was associated with greater weight loss and improvements in biomarkers. Future research needs to focus on improving and maintaining adherence to all components of the treatment protocol to promote weight loss and maintenance.


adherence; biomarkers; diet; exercise; obesity; self-monitoring


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