Weight Loss Maintenance Research

29 Jan 2020 - 15:00

UCT’s Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine is doing an exciting following up study to their previous research in weight loss maintenance.

What is the purpose of this research?

Losing weight is never easy, but with a goal in sight it’s easier to motivate yourself to eat healthily and exercise. However once you’ve reached your goal weight, every day thereafter it gets a little bit harder to stay on track, and weight-loss maintenance becomes the biggest obstacle. In fact, almost all research studies agree, only about 20% of people who are successful at weight loss, can maintain this weight loss for longer than 5 years and stay successful in the long term. Thus weight loss maintenance has a very low success rate. For aspiring weight loss candidates this is a grim prospect, especially bearing in mind the effort it takes to lose the weight in the first place. So finding a way to overcome this is important.

What did we learn from our previous study?

In our previous research study (Mind the Gap 1) we wanted to know why some women are so successful at weight loss while the majority of women relapse. We compared successful weight-loss maintainers with lean women with no weight loss history  and weight-loss relapsers. We found that the successful maintainers exercised more, restrained themselves from eating certain foods, ate differently, and performed better at cognitive screen tasks, compared to unsuccessful dieters and lean individuals with no weight loss history. More importantly this greater cognitive function can be linked to a more disciplined behaviour and it is this behaviour that may help these individuals to avoid falling back into their old habits, such as overeating, excessive snacking and not adhering to their exercise regime. Thus the answer to weight maintenance comes down to better self-discipline, self-control and ultimately higher executive functioning, making certain individuals more successful at weight loss maintenance.

What is the aim of the new study?

The aim of our current study, Mind the Gap 2, is to identify the physiological and behavioural factors that differ and change over time between stable weight women and women that have recently lost weight. These factors could help identify what causes  successful weight loss maintenance or weight regain. We also want to determine if working memory training can improve one’s executive function thereby changing a person’s eating behaviour through self-control (or discipline) in order to maintain their weight loss and prevent them returning to old habits which resulted in them becoming obese in the first place.

What will the testing procedures involve?

Participants will undergo 3 initial visits to the laboratory to complete a series of assessments. These assessments include behavioural questionnaires, body fat analysis, blood tests, activity measures, metabolic rate and executive function tests, including a brain scan of the brain’s response to a cognitive task while inside an MRI.

Do I qualify to take part?

We are actively recruiting two groups of participants for our study and we are looking for:

Women between the ages of 25-45years who have either:
1.    Lost at least 10% of their initial weight, had a BMI over 30 when they started with their weight loss journey and preferably underwent this weight loss within the last 2 years.
2.    Are weight stable (i.e. have not gained or lost a significant amount of weight over the last 5years)

Contact Us

If you meet the criteria above and would like to take part in the study, please contact:
Ms Trinity Rudner (Study Coordinator)
Phone: 083 861 0333

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