Who loses weight in a weight gain prevention program? A comparison of weight losers and weight maintainers at 3 years.

Academic Article


  • Objective: Despite weight loss challenges in young adulthood, 17% of participants in the Study of Novel Approaches to Weight Gain Prevention (SNAP) weight gain prevention study lost ≥ 5% of their body weight at 3 years. These “weight losers” (n = 88) were compared to “weight maintainers” (n = 143), who successfully prevented weight gains by staying within ± 2.5% of their baseline weight at 3 years. Method: Weight losers and maintainers (n = 231; 18–35 years old) were drawn from the SNAP randomized controlled trial (n = 599), which compared two weight gain prevention interventions with a control group. Participants completed anthropometric and psychosocial assessments at baseline, 4 months (end of face-to-face intervention), and 1, 2, and 3 years. Results: Three-year weight losers had significantly greater weight losses than maintainers by 4 months, and weight trajectories continued to diverge. Three-year weight change group was not associated with treatment assignment. At pretreatment, weight losers were heavier, closer to their self-reported highest ever weight, and further away from their self-identified ideal weight. Across treatment, weight losers had greater dietary restraint and autonomous motivation, had lower disinhibition and self-identified ideal weight, and self-weighed more frequently than weight maintainers. Conclusions: Weight gain prevention messaging may be sufficient to initiate weight loss in a subset of young adults who are heavier and closer to their highest weight at baseline. Psychological and behavioral characteristics more consistent with weight loss may explain differences in weight outcomes between losers and maintainers at 3 years. Future studies may consider the effects of weight gain prevention versus weight loss messaging in tailoring weight control interventions for young adults. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
  • Published In

  • Health Psychology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hayes JF; Russell GB; Tate DF; Espeland MA; LaRose JG; Gorin AA; Lewis CE; Jelalian E; Bahnson J; Wing RR
  • Start Page

  • 523
  • End Page

  • 533
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 8