As we know, obesity and overweight are risk factors for a variety of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For this reason, finding effective strategies to prevent or slow weight gain is one way to combat these public health issues.
Two studies analyzed the results of other studies that tested different methods to prevent weight gain. One of them looked at strategies employed in workplaces and at school, while the other looked at strategies outside of these settings.
Workplace or school-based strategies
Very few studies done in the workplace or in school have been successful in preventing weight gain effectively. Of the 9 studies evaluated, only 3 were effective. The first, in the workplace, included personal recommendations on diet and physical activity and changed the work environment. The group who followed these recommendations gained significantly less weight than the group who did not, after 12 and 24 months. The second study offered participants advice on physical activity and diet via the internet. Finally, the third offered group lessons in schools to teach young people how to manage their diet and their level of physical activity on their own.
Habits outside the workplace
The studies carried out with adults outside these environments provide some more precise clues on effective strategies. Eating a low-fat diet as well as increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables helps prevent long-term weight gain. Two studies that applied this advice had positive results, including one where the effect was seen even 7 years later.
Frequent eating out of the home is associated with a higher risk of being overweight or obese.
Out of 11 studies (4 clinical trials and 7 observational studies) examining the impact of physical activity, only one observed significant results in preventing weight gain. The researchers taught a group of people over the age of 65 to measure their heart rate while participating in physical activity.
Finally, in one study, researchers sent nutritional advice in the form of text messages to mothers. Those who received text messages lost 0.2 kg after 1 year while those who did not gained 0.8 kg. In short, this strategy made it possible to prevent weight gain in these women.
What to do, in summary
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and decrease your intake of high fat foods.
- Move more. Changing the work environment to promote physical activity or improve the food supply can also have a positive impact.
- Get professional help. When people have regular support, in the form of nutritional counseling, text messages, or group classes, the intervention is even more effective. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of a nutritionist to help you in your process.