Research Original Research| Volume 112, ISSUE 9, P1347-1355.e2, September 2012

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Short- and Long-Term Eating Habit Modification Predicts Weight Change in Overweight, Postmenopausal Women: Results from the WOMAN Study

Published:August 28, 2012DOI:



      Standard behavioral obesity treatment produces poor long-term results. Focusing on healthy eating behaviors rather than energy intake may be an alternative strategy. In addition, important behaviors might differ for short- vs long-term weight control.


      Our aim was to describe and compare associations between changes in eating behaviors and weight after 6 and 48 months.


      We performed secondary analysis of data collected during a randomized weight-loss intervention trial with 48-month follow-up.


      We studied 481 overweight and obese postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women on the Move through Activity and Nutrition (WOMAN) Study.

      Main outcome measures

      We measured changes in weight from baseline to 6 and 48 months.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Linear regression models were used to examine the associations between 6- and 48-month changes in eating habits assessed by the Conner Diet Habit Survey and changes in weight. Analyses were conducted in the combined study population and stratified by randomization group.


      At 6 months in the combined population, weight loss was independently associated with decreased desserts (P<0.001), restaurant eating (P=0.042), sugar-sweetened beverages (P=0.009), and fried foods (P<0.001), and increased fish consumption (P=0.003). Results were similar in intervention participants; only reduced desserts and fried foods associated with weight loss in controls. At 48 months in the combined population, weight loss was again associated with decreased desserts (P=0.003) and sugar-sweetened beverages (P=0.011), but also decreased meats/cheeses (P=0.024) and increased fruits/vegetables (P<0.001). Decreased meats/cheeses predicted weight loss in intervention participants; desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, and fruits/vegetables were independently associated in controls.


      Changes in eating behaviors were associated with weight change, although important behaviors differed for short- and long-term weight change and by randomization group. Future studies should determine whether interventions targeting these behaviors could improve long-term obesity treatment outcomes.


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      B. Barone Gibbs is an assistant professor, Department of Health and Physical Activity, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


      L. S. Kinzel is a senior research nutritionist, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


      L. H. Kuller is a distinguished university professor of Public Health, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.


      K. Pettee Gabriel is an assistant professor, Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, Austin.


      Y.-F. Chang is a research assistant professor, School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.