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Weight Regain Is Related to Decreases in Physical Activity during Weight Loss


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 10 - p 1781-1788
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31817d8176
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Purpose: To examine whether adaptations in physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) and resting metabolic rate (RMR) during weight loss were associated with future weight regain in overweight/obese, older women.

Research Methods and Procedures: Thirty-four overweight/obese (BMI = 25-40 kg·m−2), postmenopausal women underwent a 20-wk weight loss intervention of hypocaloric diet with (low- or high-intensity) or without treadmill walking (weekly caloric deficit was ∼11,760 kJ), with a subsequent 12-month follow-up. RMR (via indirect calorimetry), PAEE (by RT3 accelerometer), and body composition (by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) were measured before and after intervention. Body weight and self-reported information on physical activity were collected after intervention and at 6 and 12 months after intervention.

Results: The intervention resulted in decreases in body weight, lean mass, fat mass, percent body fat, RMR, and PAEE (P < 0.001 for all). Weight regain was 2.9 ± 3.3 kg (−3.1 to +9.2 kg) at 6 months and 5.2 ± 5.0 kg (−2.3 to +21.7 kg) at 12 months after intervention. The amount of weight regained after 6 and 12 months was inversely associated with decreases in PAEE during the weight loss intervention (r = −0.521, P = 0.002 and r = −0.404, P = 0.018, respectively), such that women with larger declines in PAEE during weight loss experienced greater weight regain during follow-up. Weight regain was not associated with changes in RMR during intervention or with self-reported physical activity during follow-up.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that although both RMR and PAEE decreased during weight loss in postmenopausal women, maintaining high levels of daily physical activity during weight loss may be important to mitigate weight regain after weight loss.

1Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC; 2Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY; and 3Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Address for correspondence: Xuewen Wang, Ph.D., Section on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd, Winston-Salem, NC 27157; E-mail:

Submitted for publication October 2007.

Accepted for publication April 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine