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How Can I Help My Client Who Is Experiencing a Weight-Loss Plateau?

      An observation made in a meta-analysis of 80 weight-loss studies with a minimum follow-up of 12 months was that weight-loss plateaus occur at approximately 6 months of all interventions involving a reduced-energy diet and/or weight-management medication (
      • Franz M.J.
      • VanWormer J.J.
      • Crain A.L.
      • Boucher J.L.
      • Histon T.
      • Caplan W.
      • Bowman J.D.
      • Pronk N.P.
      Weight-loss outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of weight-loss clinical trials with a minimum 1-year follow-up.
      ). A weight-loss plateau has been defined as occurring “when a person is in energy balance (calories eaten are equal to the calories burned) and therefore no weight loss occurs” (
      • Kushner R.F.
      • Kushner N.
      • Jackson Blatner D.
      Counseling Overweight Adults: The Lifestyle Patterns Approach and Toolkit.
      ). The reasons for a weight-loss plateau are as yet unclearly delineated, but as people lose weight, they lose muscle mass in addition to fat and water, which results in a lower metabolic rate. In addition, at their new lower body weight, they burn fewer calories doing the same physical activity. An important goal in nutrition therapy for overweight and obese individuals is to decrease caloric intake in order to achieve a negative energy balance to promote weight loss.
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      References

        • Franz M.J.
        • VanWormer J.J.
        • Crain A.L.
        • Boucher J.L.
        • Histon T.
        • Caplan W.
        • Bowman J.D.
        • Pronk N.P.
        Weight-loss outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of weight-loss clinical trials with a minimum 1-year follow-up.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2007; 10: 1755-1767
        • Kushner R.F.
        • Kushner N.
        • Jackson Blatner D.
        Counseling Overweight Adults: The Lifestyle Patterns Approach and Toolkit.
        American Dietetic Association, Chicago, IL2009
        • Hall K.D.
        • Sacks G.
        • Chandramohan D.
        • Chow C.C.
        • Wang Y.C.
        • Gortmaker S.L.
        • Swinburn B.A.
        Quantification of the effect of energy imbalance on bodyweight.
        Lancet. 2011; 378: 826-837
      1. Adult weight management evidence-based nutrition practice guideline American Dietetic Association Evidence Analysis Library Web site.
        (Accessed October 5, 2011)
      2. The Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report.
        US Department of Health and Human Services, Rockland, MD1998 (NIH Publication No. 98-4083)
        • Gillette Dormer C.
        Clinical challenge: Weight loss plateau.
        Fall. 2003; 1: 4-5

      Biography

      This article was written Eleese Cunningham, RD, of the American Dietetic Association's Knowledge Center Team, Chicago, IL. ADA members can contact the Knowledge Center by sending an e-mail to [email protected] .