Health Notes

Weight Loss and Obesity

Also indexed as:Weight Loss
Weight Loss and Obesity: Main Image

Lifestyle Modification


Many doctors give overweight patients a pill, a pep talk, and a pamphlet about diet and exercise, but that combination leads only to minor weight loss.1 When overweight people attend group sessions aimed at changing eating and exercise patterns, keep daily records of food intake and exercise, and eat a specific low-calorie diet the outcome is much more successful. Group sessions where participants are given information and help on how to make lifestyle changes appear to improve the chances of losing weight and keeping it off. Such changes may include shopping from a list, storing foods out of sight, keeping portion sizes under control, and avoiding fast-food restaurants.


According to most short-term studies, the effect of exercise alone (without dietary restriction) on weight loss is small,2, 3 partly because muscle mass often increases even while fat tissue is reduced,4 and perhaps because some exercising people will experience increased appetites. The long-term effect of regular exercise on weight loss is much better, and exercise appears to help people maintain weight loss.5, 6 People who have successfully maintained weight loss for over two years report continuing high levels of physical activity.7 Combining exercise with healthier eating habits results in the best short- and long-term effects on weight loss,8, 9 and should reduce the risk of many serious diseases.10, 11, 12

Avoid weight cycling

People who experience “weight cycling” (repetitive weight loss and gain) have a tendency toward binge eating (periods of compulsive overeating, but without the self-induced vomiting seen in bulimia), according to a review of numerous studies focusing on weight loss.13 The researchers also found an association between weight cycling and depression or poor body image. The most successful weight-loss programmes (in which weight stays off, mood stays even, and no binge eating occurs) appear to use a combination of moderate caloric restriction, moderate exercise, and behaviour modification, including examination and adjustment of eating habits.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.