Postprint version. Published in Preventive Medicine, Volume 39, Issue 3, September 1, 2004, pages 612-616. Publisher website: http://www.sciencedirect.com. The definitive version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.02.026
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Suzanne Phelan was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Background. Medical events are often reported as triggers for weight loss, but it is unknown whether medical triggers result in better short- and long-term weight control.
Methods. The relationship between medical triggers and weight loss was examined in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), a database of individuals who have lost ≥30 lbs and kept it off for ≥1 year. Recall of weight loss triggers may become difficult over time, thus participants were limited to those reporting weight loss <5 years ago. Three groups were examined:>(1) participants with medical triggers (N = 207), (2) participants with nonmedical triggers (N = 539), and (3) participants with no trigger (N = 171).
Results. Participants with medical triggers were older than those with nonmedical triggers or no trigger (50.5 ± 11.7, 44.9 ± 11.8, 46.7 ± 13.3 years; P = 0.0001), had a higher initial BMI at entry into the NWCR (26.1 ± 5.0, 25.0 ± 4.3, 24.8 ± 4.4 kg/m2; P = 0.004), and were more likely to be male (37.1%, 18%, 17.2%; P = 0.0001). Participants with medical triggers reported greater initial weight loss than those with nonmedical triggers or no trigger (36.5 ± 25.0, 31.8 ± 16.6, 31.8 ± 17.1 kg; P = 0.01). Participants with medical triggers also gained less weight over 2 years of follow-up than those with nonmedical triggers or no trigger (P = 0.003).
Conclusions. Medical triggers may produce a teachable moment for weight control, resulting in better initial weight loss and long-term maintenance.