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Obes Rev. 2015 Feb;16(2):171-86. doi: 10.1111/obr.12241. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

Effectiveness of weight loss interventions--is there a difference between men and women: a systematic review.

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School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia.


Effective strategies are required to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity; however, the effectiveness of current weight loss programmes is variable. One contributing factor may be the difference in weight loss success between men and women. A systematic review was conducted to determine whether the effectiveness of weight loss interventions differs between men and women. Randomized controlled trials published up until March 2014 were included. Effect sizes (Hedges' g) were used to examine the difference in weight outcomes between men and women. A total of 58 studies met the eligibility criteria with 49 studies of higher quality included in the final data synthesis. Eleven studies that directly compared weight loss in men and women reported a significant sex difference. Ten of these reported that men lost more weight than women; however, women also lost a significant amount of weight. Analysis of effect sizes found small differences in weight loss favouring men for both diet (g = 0.489) and diet plus exercise (g = 0.240) interventions. There is little evidence from this review to indicate that men and women should adopt different weight loss strategies. Current evidence supports moderate energy restriction in combination with exercise for weight loss in both men and women.


Sex differences; systematic review; weight loss

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