A new study shows a series of post-diet phone calls could be the missing link between losing weight and keeping it off.
Authors published the results of a year-long trial Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found dieters were more likely to maintain weight loss if they engaged in post-diet coaching sessions.
Speaking to HealthDay News about the study funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Corrine Voils, the University of Wisconsin’s Surgical Outcomes Research Program scientific director, revealed dieters who had follow-up coaching gained less weight back than those who didn’t. On average, coached participants gained a pound and a half one year after reaching their goal. Non-coached dieters gained five pounds during the same period. Two hundred and twenty-two mostly white, middle-aged men engaged in a structured weight-loss program and lost an average of 16 pounds. Afterward, participants were randomly selected to get coaching from dietitians. Coaching sessions began with in-person group visits and later shifted to phone calls, with the frequency decreasing from bi-weekly to every two months.
Dietitians encouraged clients to focus on four themes to keep the weight off: regularly weighing in, planning for cases where relying on old eating patterns may occur (like on vacation), asking a friend or family member to help them to maintain a healthy lifestyle and listing benefits of weight loss they have experienced.
Coaching ended after 42 weeks and the dieters were left alone for 14 weeks before weighing themselves to see if the numbers on the scale had changed.
“There could be a distinct phase after initial weight loss where this could benefit,” Voils said. “There’s accountability by somebody calling you regularly.”
Dr. Donald Hensrud, who directs the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and serves as the editor of “The Mayo Clinic Diet,” agreed: “We think that staying in touch with people during this so-called maintenance phase is important. People respond to it.”