Abundant literature exist on interventions for weight loss documenting the existence of a weight loss maintenance problem (Wadden & Bell, 1990; Kay man et al., 1990; Wadden et al., 1989). Very few individuals are successful at maintaining their weight loss for at least two years for reasons that are not clearly understood. This retrospective study examined factors, identified in a review of the scientific literature, shown to be associated with weight loss maintenance. A screening questionnaire was presented to all female patients (n=271) entering physician offices for routine health maintenance care from February 1, 1994 through June 30, 1994. Fifty-three females who had maintained an intentional weight loss of at least 20 pounds for two years within the past 10 years were identified. A comparison group of 45 females who had lost, and then regained at least 20 pounds in the past 10 years was also identified. Study questionnaires were mailed to the 98 eligible females. The study was based on 56 responses to a questionnaire designed to assess differences in women who were successful at maintaining long-term weight loss (n=29) and those who regained their weight loss (n=27). The overall questionnaire return rate was 57-1 percent: 54.7 percent for maintainers and 60.0 percent for regainers. The two groups were comparable based on demographic and descriptive variables.

Women who were successful at maintaining their weight loss differed significantly from women who regained their weight in the following areas: 1. maintainers currently weigh less than regainers and considered their ideal weight to be lower; 2. maintainers attended fewer formal weight loss programs and received less weight loss instruction, received instruction at a commercial program less often, and were more likely to have attended a support group after weight loss; 3. maintainers performed more aerobic activity after weight loss; and 4. maintainers were more likely to have eaten meals at regular times, consumed fewer servings per day of "junk food", snacked less between meals, and snacked less on items such as chips, candy, cookies, and diet soda.

Based on the findings of this study, it appears that successful weight loss maintenance is the result of a multicomponent process which includes perception of ideal weight, a self-help approach to weight loss and attending a support group, regular aerobic exercise, and specific diet-related behaviors.




Graduate School

First Advisor

Glen Blix

Second Advisor

Georgia Hodgkins

Third Advisor

Helen Hopp

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Weight Loss; Women's Health; Exercise; Social Support.



Page Count

x; 108

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives