How to succeed with weight loss

The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide, and the different approaches to solve the problem are as creative as they are numerous – from miracle pills to celebrity diets only consisting of lemons, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. From a more evidence-based point of view, the main perception is that there are no quick fixes – loosing weight requires hard work and motivation to change habits, a change that should be maintained throughout life. However, even within the medical field there is not full agreement of what is the most effective way to lose weight. A recently published Norwegian study compared two common treatments of obesity, to investigate which of them having best results.

Patients were randomly selected to one of two groups: 10 weeks with diet counseling and 3 hours exercise/week, or 12 weeks with 3 course days per week with exercise and diet counseling. The last group was even followed once a month throughout the year, after the intervention period.

Man holding his fat belly isolated on whiteNot surprisingly, the intensive program had the best results, with an average weight loss of 13 kgs, as well as a significant increase in quality of life. On the other hand, the participants in the moderate group had very limited effect. According to, the researchers believe that a key factor to succeed is that the intervention program was home-based – obese patients often have a very good effect of longer stays at obesity treatments centers, but when they return home, they are not able to maintain the habits they learned at the course. Through the combination of intensive days of exercise and diet counseling and trying to adapt the habits to every-day-life inbetween, the participants had a great opportunity to continuously get feedback on what was working and what was not when they were home.

Still, lots of questions remains unsolved regarding weight loss research. For instance, it is often claimed that only restrained eating, not exercise, has effect on weight loss. On the other hand, some tells you to eat whatever you want as long as you are burning more calories than you are consuming. The third suggestion is restrained eating in combination with intensive exercise. I’ll challenge some of the CERG researchers to write something about this on the blog, so keep following us!

Maria Henningsen, CERG