Measuring Outcomes in Adult Weight Loss Studies That Include Diet and Physical Activity: A Systematic ReviewReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism - Volume 2014 2014, Article ID 421423, 13 pages -

Review ArticleSDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, 6363 Alvarado Court, San Diego, CA 92120, USA

Received 21 June 2014; Revised 27 October 2014; Accepted 27 October 2014; Published 25 November 2014

Academic Editor: Michael B. Zemel

Copyright © 2014 Rachel A. Millstein. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Measuring success of obesity interventions is critical. Several methods measure weight loss outcomes but there is no consensus on best practices. This systematic review evaluates relevant outcomes weight loss, BMI, % body fat, and fat mass to determine which might be the best indicators of success. Methods. Eligible articles described adult weight loss interventions that included diet and physical activity and a measure of weight or BMI change and body composition change. Results. 28 full-text articles met inclusion criteria. Subjects, settings, intervention lengths, and intensities varied. All studies measured body weight −2.9 to −17.3 kg, 9 studies measured BMI −1.1 to −5.1 kg-m

, 20 studies measured % body fat −0.7 to −10.2%, and 22 studies measured fat mass −0.9 to −14.9 kg. All studies found agreement between weight or BMI and body fat mass or body fat % decreases, though there were discrepancies in degree of significance between measures. Conclusions. Nearly all weight or BMI and body composition measures agreed. Since body fat is the most metabolically harmful tissue type, it may be a more meaningful measure of health change. Future studies should consider primarily measuring % body fat, rather than or in addition to weight or BMI.

Author: Rachel A. Millstein



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