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Int J Eat Disord. 1997 Sep;22(2):203-12.

A multicenter evaluation of a proprietary weight loss program for the treatment of marked obesity: a five-year follow-up.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104, USA.



The traditional goal of obesity therapy has been the reduction of body weight to an ideal standard. Patient difficulties, however, in reaching this goal have led to a reassessment of weight loss criteria. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recently proposed that successful long-term weight loss be defined as the reduction of initial weight by 5% or more and the maintenance of this loss for at least 1 year. The present study used these criteria to evaluate the long-term efficacy of a proprietary weight loss program.


Patients were 621 persons who had completed a 26-week weight loss program that included 12 weeks of treatment by a very-low-calorie diet. They were recruited from a total of 1,283 eligible persons who had been treated at 36 clinics nationwide. Clinics were randomly selected to participate. Patients' weights were determined in telephone interviews initially conducted 2 years after treatment and then at yearly intervals through 5 years of follow-up.


At the end of treatment, men achieved a mean reduction in initial weight of 25.5 +/- 1% and women 22.6 +/- 1%. Subjects regained substantial amounts of weight by the 2-year follow-up but 77.5% of men and 59.9% of women still maintained losses of 5% or more of body weight. At the 3-year follow-up, 53% of the original sample (of 621 persons) maintained losses of 5% or more and 35% losses of 10% or more. These trends were apparent 4 and 5 years after treatment but the dwindling sample sizes prevented definitive assessments.


The findings showed that a program of lifestyle modification combined with the brief use of a very-low-calorie diet was associated with successful weight control in a substantial portion of patients several years after treatment. Long-term weight losses of 5% or more of initial weight are likely to be associated with improvements in health complications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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