Weight control behaviors of highly successful weight loss maintainers: the Portuguese Weight Control Registry


To describe key behaviors reported by participants in the Portuguese Weight Control Registry and to determine associations between these behaviors and weight loss maintenance. A total of 388 adults participated in this cross-sectional study. Assessments included demographic information, weight history, weight loss and weight maintenance strategies, dietary intake, and physical activity. Participants lost on average 18 kg, which they had maintained for ~28 months. Their average dietary intake was 2199 kcal/day, with 33 % of energy coming from fat. About 78 % of participants engaged in levels of moderate-plus-vigorous physical activity exceeding 150 min/week (51 % above 250 min/week), with men accumulating 82 more minutes than women (p < 0.05). The most frequently reported strategies for both weight loss and maintenance were keeping healthy foods at home, consuming vegetables regularly, and having daily breakfast. Greater weight loss maintenance was associated with higher levels of physical activity, walking, weight self-monitoring, establishing specific goals, and with reduced portion size use, reduced consumption of carbohydrates, and increased consumption of protein, (p < 0.05). Results indicate that weight loss maintenance is possible through the adoption of a nutritionally-balanced diet and regular participation in physical activity, but also suggest that adopting different (and, to a degree, individualized) set of behavioral strategies is key for achieving success.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Energy intake adjusted for initial body weight before weight loss (expressed in energy/kg/day).


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This study was funded by Grants from the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation (PTDC/DES/72317/2008-2011 and SFRH/80739/2011 to the first author). The authors are grateful to the Oeiras City Council for its additional financial support. The authors want to acknowledge Susana Cunha for her participation in data collection.

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Correspondence to Pedro J. Teixeira.

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Authors Inês Santos, Paulo N. Vieira, Marlene N. Silva, Luís B. Sardinha, and Pedro J. Teixeira declare that they do not have any conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Santos, I., Vieira, P.N., Silva, M.N. et al. Weight control behaviors of highly successful weight loss maintainers: the Portuguese Weight Control Registry. J Behav Med 40, 366–371 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-016-9786-y

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  • Weight loss
  • Weight maintenance
  • Strategies
  • Behaviors
  • Weight Control Registry