European Congress on Obesity

European Congress on Obesity

June 18, 2014
1 min read

Weight-loss program success, failure criteria deserve another look

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Patients who fail to meet their targets in weight-loss programs may still succeed in achieving health benefits, according to research presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The presence of positive changes in body composition, including muscle gained, suggest that alternative key performance indicators should be carefully considered when assessing failure and success.

In a retrospective analysis, Matthew S. Capehorn, MD, director of the Rotherham Institute for Obesity, Rotherham, United Kingdom, and colleagues examined data for 253 adults who completed a 6-month multi-disciplinary weight-management program at the institute but did not reach the 5% minimum weight-loss target.

“We suspected that many of these patients may have only lost a few percent of their original starting weight, but may demonstrate either significant reduction of total or visceral fat, show increases in lean muscle, or both,” Capehorn told Endocrine Today.

The researchers compared body composition data from baseline and 6 months. Results showed 141 adults (56%) lost fat, on average 5.25 kg, and 40 of these individuals (28%) actually gained more muscle than they lost in fat, which translated to weight gain. Of the entire group, 87 adults (34%) gained muscle, on average 2.3 kg, and 185 (73%) either lost fat or gained muscle.

“When patients’ weight loss starts to slow or stop, but we can still demonstrate that their fat loss is going down and it is being replaced by muscle, this is invaluable, as it maintains patient motivation within the program,” Capehorn said in a press release.

Based on the findings, Capehorn told Endocrine Today that teams of health care specialists leading these types of programs should consider additional measures of success.

“Our analysis has demonstrated that even patients who appear to gain weight may have increased lean muscle and decreased fat that could convey significant health benefits,” he said. — by Allegra Tiver

For more information:
Capehorn MS. Abstract T5:PO.009. Presented at: 21st European Congress on Obesity; May 28-31, 2014; Sofia, Bulgaria.

Capehorn can be reached at the Rotherham Institute for Obesity, The Health Village, Doncaster Gate, Rotherham, S65 1DA; email:

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.