If you thought the best way to lose and maintain weight was the slow and steady approach, think again. A new study by Lisa Nackers and colleagues, from the University of Florida in the US, suggests that the key to long-term weight loss and maintenance is to lose weight quickly, not gradually, in the initial stages of obesity treatment. Their findings(1) are published online in Springer's International Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

Successful weight loss in obese individuals is defined as a reduction of 10 percent or more of initial body weight maintained for at least a year. The jury is still out, however, as to whether fast or slow initial weight loss is the best approach for long-term weight control in obese patients. On the one hand, there is evidence that losing weight slowly initially results in continued weight loss, reduced risk of weight regain, and successful long-term weight loss maintenance. On the other hand, it has also been shown that the greater the initial weight loss in obese patients, the larger the total weight loss observed longer term.

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