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The role of social support in weight loss maintenance: results from the MedWeight study


The role of social support in weight management is not fully understood, as more support has been linked to both favorable and unfavorable outcomes. We examined social support in relation to weight loss maintenance, comparing between maintainers and regainers of weight loss. The MedWeight study is a Greek registry of people who have intentionally lost ≥10 % of their weight and are either maintaining this loss for over a year (maintainers), or have regained weight (regainers). Demographics and lifestyle habits questionnaires are completed online. Dietary assessment is carried out by two telephone 24 h recalls. Perceived social support was assessed by validated scales examining support from family and friends regarding healthy eating and exercise. 289 maintainers and 122 regainers participated. Regainers received more support compared to maintainers. However, maintainers reported receiving compliments and active participation, whereas regainers receiving verbal instructions and encouragements. Maintainers who received diet support displayed improved dietary intakes, such as lower energy intake; regainers’ diet was unaffected by support. Positive, rather than instructive, support appears beneficial in weight loss maintenance.

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We sincerely thank the volunteers for participating in the study.


The MedWeight study was financially supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation. Eleni Karfopoulou and Costas A. Anastasiou received stipends from this grant. The funding body had no involvement in the design of the study, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, the decision to publish or writing the paper. Eleni Karfopoulou also received financial support from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation.

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Correspondence to Mary Yannakoulia.

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Evangelia Avgeraki, Mary H. Kosmidis and Mary Yannakoulia declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Harokopio University Ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Karfopoulou, E., Anastasiou, C.A., Avgeraki, E. et al. The role of social support in weight loss maintenance: results from the MedWeight study. J Behav Med 39, 511–518 (2016).

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  • Obesity
  • Maintainers
  • Regainers
  • Social support
  • Friends
  • Family