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December 1989

Diet vs Exercise in Weight Maintenance: The Effects of Minimal Intervention Strategies on Long-term Outcomes in Men

Author Affiliations

From the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.

Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(12):2741-2746. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390120085017

• The effect of a minimal intervention strategy on maintenance of weight lost through either energy restriction alone or exercise alone during the previous year was studied in a sample of middle-aged men. At the end of the initial year of weight loss, dieters (n = 44) and exercisers (n = 46) were randomly assigned to either an intervention condition, comprising monthly mailed informational packets and monthly to quarterly telephone contacts, or an assessment-only condition. The intervention had a significantly greater impact on weight maintenance in exercisers than it did in dieters. In addition, dieters showed a more variable pattern of weight gain and weight loss during the maintenance year than did exercisers. Based on 7-day food records and a 7-day physical activity recall questionnaire, exercisers reported a greater energy intake and a greater amount of time spent in vigorous activity relative to dieters at both the beginning and the end of the maintenance year. We conclude that exercise is easier to maintain in men using minimal contact strategies than dietary approaches to weight control focusing on modification of energy intake, with subsequent benefits in terms of both overall maintenance and stability of weight.

(Arch Intern Med. 1989;149:2741-2746)

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