WeightControl: CalPoly Study Examines Factors Distinguishing Weight-Maintainers from Weight-Regainers

WeightControl.com Interview with:
Suzanne Phelan, PhD
Professor of Kinesiology & Public Health
Director, Center for Health Research
California Polytechnic State University

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study? 

Response: Understanding the factors that promote long-term weight control is need to inform health interventions.  We know that self-monitoring, physical activity, and cognitive restraint are associated with success in long-term weight control.  The other behavioral, psychological, and environmental factors remain unclear, and very few studies have examined the factors related to long-term successful weight control in commercial weight management programs, which reach 10-15% of the US population.  

WeightControl.com:   What are the main findings?

Response: Among nearly 3,000 long-term weight loss maintainers, modest weight regain over the year of follow-up was relatively common. ​ 43% experienced weight gains of more than 2.3 kg  ​.  Nevertheless, gainers remained 18% below their starting weight!​ So, they would still be considered long-term successful weight loss maintainers.  

The variables that most strongly differentiated regainers from maintainers over 1 year: ​ 

  • Greater decreases in willingness to accept uncomfortable food cravings​ 
  • Greater decreases in self-monitoring​ 
  • Greater decreases in body image ​ 
  • Greater increases in disinhibition​ 
  • Greater increases in bodily pain​ 

WeightControl.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The variables that most strongly differentiated regainers from maintainers were greater decreases in willingness to accept uncomfortable food cravings, self-monitoring, and body image and greater increases in disinhibition and bodily pain over a 1-year period.  

WeightControl.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future weight maintenance interventions should target overeating in response to both internal and external food cues, declines in self-monitoring, and body image. Researchers, clinicians, and policy makers should consider these factors in the development of interventions to help prevent weight regain among those who have experienced clinically significant weight loss 

WeightControl.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: This is the first known study to comprehensively and prospectively investigate determinants of weight loss maintenance in a widely available commercial weight management program.​  Findings should be interpreted in the context of the study’s limitations. Participants were predominantly female, non-Hispanic White, and with higher income​. So, findings might not generalize to other populations of weight loss maintainers.  The study was funded by a grant from WeightWatchers. 


Phelan, S, Cardel, MI, Lee, AM, Alarcon, N, Foster, GD. Behavioral, psychological, and environmental predictors of weight regain in a group of successful weight losers in a widely available weight-management program. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2023; 1-11. doi:10.1002/oby.23903

The information on WeightControl.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.


Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by weightcontrol