It’s a point that can’t be emphasized enough. Whether it’s liposuction, good old-fashioned diet and exercise, or a combination thereof, maintaining that hard-earned weight loss requires adopting a permanent lifestyle change that supports a healthy, fit body. Interestingly, while weight management programs are generally targeted to the population at higher risk for weight gain, recent research suggests that the this same message needs to be shared with the population less at risk for becoming overweight too. That’s according to a recent article published by Medical News Today (MNT).
The news source reports the results and insights of research conducted by Kristina Lindvall at Umea University in Sweden. For her thesis research, Lindvall looked at what she calls “primary weight maintenance” in participants between the ages of 30 and 65 from Northern Sweden and New York State. Her research was inspired based on the findings of the Vasterbotten Intervention Programme (VIP), which showed that two-thirds of program participants gained weight over time, including a trend for younger, normal weight patient with no identifiable risk factors to be particularly susceptible.
"That is why I chose to focus on primary weight maintenance in my research, i.e, the possibility of preventing weight gain among normal weight and overweight individuals," the article quotes Kristina Lindvall as saying.
In a nutshell, the results of her research suggest that healthy weight programs, intervention, and messaging should target not just the overweight population, but those who are considered “healthy” as a preventive measure for obesity.
In the study, all patients were either “normal” weight or overweight and were part of the VIP on two occasions. A questionnaire was used to try to discover what attitudes and behaviors were important to different patients categorized by BMI (body mass index), age and gender. Results showed major differences, reports MNT. Specific patient interviews as part of Lindvall’s study further elucidate how differences enhance the need to customize advice to both the population looking to maintain weight and the one looking to lose weight. She describes four “strategies” participants described in their interviews:
As Lindvall points out, "This further emphasizes the importance of tailoring interventions based on an individual's demographic (age, sex and baseline BMI) when aiming at primary weight maintenance in a population.”
Digging a little deeper, and further supporting her theory that interventions should be customized, Lindvall’s study compared the 10-year weight change in the US and Swedish female populations. She found that the US women gained nearly double the average weight (3.5 kg) the Swedish women gained. Researchers don’t have a concrete explanation as both groups of women claimed to have had “healthy behaviors” yet had conflicting results. “The difference was greater in terms of weight gain among the American women if they chose healthy behaviors over unhealthy ones,” reports MNT.
At the end of the day, Lindvall’s message seems to offer some good advice for everyone looking to lose weight or to help to keep it off: “Healthy” weight is indeed a lifestyle and prevention and intervention programs are not just for the overweight, but for every person, of every size, who wants to live a long, healthy, fit life. And for any kind of intervention or prevention program to work, it has to be designed to meet the needs of different people with different needs.