School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

News

5 Oct 2021

Ten small changes you can make today to prevent weight gain

Between the ages of 20 and 55, most adults gain between 0.5 and 1kg a year, which could see some people become overweight or obese over time.

This weight gain isn’t usually the result of overeating large amounts of food. Instead, it’s usually caused by eating a small amount – around 100-200 extra calories – more than is needed each day.

The good news is that we may be able to prevent ourselves from gaining weight by making small changes to our diet or physical activity. Our recent review found that eating 100-200 calories less, or burning an extra 100-200 calories each day, may be enough to stop ourselves from gaining weight in the long run. This is known as a “small-changes approach”, which was first proposed in 2004 by James Hill, an American expert on obesity, to help people manage their weight.

Many small studies have investigated the use of the small-changes approach for weight management. We combined the results of these smaller studies into a larger review to get an average (and more statistically reliable) result of the effect of this approach on weight management. We looked at 19 trials – 15 of which tested a small-changes approach to prevent weight gain, and four that test this approach for weight loss.

We analysed the data of nearly 3,000 people in weight-gain prevention trials, and 372 people in weight-loss trials. Participants were aged between 18 and 60, 65% of whom were female. In those who used the small-changes approach to prevent weight gain, we found that participants gained almost 1kg less compared with those who didn’t use this approach over a period of eight to 14 months. The 1kg difference was statistically significant, meaning it was unlikely to be the result of chance.

Preventing weight gain

The trials we looked at used a number of different small changes to help participants prevent weight gain. Here are some of the successful techniques used in these trials...

Dr Claire Madigan and PhD researcher Henrietta Graham share 10 small changes you can make to prevent weight gain - including taking your dog for an extra 30-minute brisk walk each day - in the Conversation.

Read the full article here