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Mastering weight-maintenance skills before embarking on diet helps women avoid backsliding
Date:10/30/2012

STANFORD, Calif. Would you take part in a weight-loss program in which you were explicitly asked not to lose any weight for the first eight weeks?

Although the approach sounds counterintuitive, a study from researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that women who spent eight weeks mastering weight-maintenance skills before embarking on a weight-loss program shed the same number of pounds as women who started a weight-loss program immediately. More importantly, the study showed that the "maintenance-first" women had regained only 3 pounds on average a year later, compared to the average 7-pound gain for the immediate dieters.

The study's authors say that the maintenance-first approach may offer a way to halt the cycle of yo-yo dieting.

"Those eight weeks were like a practice run. Women could try out different stability skills and work out the kinks without the pressure of worrying about how much weight they had lost," said lead author Michaela Kiernan, PhD, senior research scientist at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "We found that waiting those eight weeks didn't make the women any less successful at losing weight. But even better, women who practiced stability first were more successful in maintaining that loss after a year."

The study will be published online Oct. 31 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Obesity contributes to a variety of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Previous research has shown that losing 5-10 percent of your body weight can decrease the risk factors for heart disease. Yet despite the plethora of diet books and programs, many people who lose weight are unable to keep it off.

Over the years, Kiernan has interviewed both those who have succeeded and those who have failed at keeping the pounds off. She was particularly struck by one woman who said that she had never "maintained" her weight in her life; instea
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Contact: Susan Ipaktchian
susani@stanford.edu
650-725-5375
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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