November 02, 2016
2 min read

Self-regulation interventions reduce weight gain in young adults

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NEW ORLEANS — Weight gain was successfully reduced and maintained up to 2 years in young adults who participated in self-regulation interventions, according to a presenter here.

The weight loss significantly improved cardiovascular disease risk factors in the participants, according to the researchers.

“Young adults have the greatest risk of weight gain,” Rena Wing, PhD, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, told Endocrine Today. “Most prior studies trying to intervene to prevent this weight gain have not achieved long-term success. We recently reported that two novel interventions based on self-regulation were effective in reducing weight gain. In this presentation, we are looking to see if these interventions also helped reduce worsening CV risk factors over 2 years.”

Rena Wing
Rena Wing

Wing and colleagues used data from the Study of Novel Approaches to Weight Gain Prevention on 599 young adults aged 18 to 35 years with BMI of 21 to 31 kg/m2 randomly assigned to a control group, a self-regulation with small changes group or a self-regulation with large changes group.

Frequent self-weighing was encouraged in both interventions to cue behavior changes. During the self-regulation with small changes intervention, participants were encouraged to make small decreases in food intake and increases in physical activity for a 200 kcal per day change. During the self-regulation with large changes intervention, participants were encouraged to lose 2.3 to 4.5 kg initially to counteract expected weight gains. At baseline, after 4 months of intervention, and then annually through 2 to 4 years, weight was assessed. At baseline and 2 years, CVD risk factors were assessed, and weight gain of 0.45 kg or less over 2 years defined weight maintenance.

Through a follow-up of 3 years, weight changes were 0.26 kg in the control group, -0.56 kg in the small changes group and -2.37 kg in the large changes group. Among the three groups, there were significant differences for changes in glucose, insulin and homeostasis model of assessment for insulin resistance (P values = .02 to .05); the large changes group had significantly greater improvements compared with the control group. No significant differences were found between the groups for lipids or blood pressure.

Significantly greater improvements on every CVD risk factor were found among participants who maintained their weight over 2 years compared with participants who gained weight.

“We found evidence that the interventions had positive effects on glucose and insulin relative to the control; this resulted from the better weight changes in the intervention,” Wing told Endocrine Today. “In addition, collapsed across the groups, we found that the magnitude of weight loss was strongly associated with improvements in every risk factor we measured — lipids, blood pressure, glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR. Thus, the bottom line is that even small weight losses in young adults are associated with significant improvements in risk factors — and conversely, small weight gains are associated with significant worsening. We will be following these young adults through 6 years to understand the longer-term impact of the weight changes in CVD risk factors.” – by Amber Cox


Wing R, et al. Oral T-OR-2013. Presented at: ObesityWeek 2016; Oct. 31-Nov. 4, 2016; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Wing reports no relevant financial disclosures.