Rotunda W, Rains C, Jacobs SR, et al. Weight Loss in Short-Term Interventions for Physical Activity and Nutrition Among Adults With Overweight or Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Prev Chronic Dis. 2024 Apr 4;21:E21. doi: 10.5888/pcd21.230347. (Systematic review)

INTRODUCTION: Reaching, enrolling, and retaining participants in lengthy lifestyle change interventions for weight loss is a major challenge. The objective of our meta-analysis was to investigate whether lifestyle interventions addressing nutrition and physical activity lasting 6 months or less are effective for weight loss.

METHODS: We searched for peer-reviewed studies on lifestyle change interventions of 6 months or less published from 2012 through 2023. Studies were screened based on inclusion criteria, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for adults with overweight or obesity. We used a random-effects model to pool the mean difference in weight loss between intervention and control groups. We also performed subgroup analyses by intervention length and control type.

RESULTS: Fourteen RCTs were identified and included in our review. Half had interventions lasting less than 13 weeks, and half lasted from 13 to 26 weeks. Seven were delivered remotely, 4 were delivered in person, and 3 used combined methods. The pooled mean difference in weight change was -2.59 kg (95% CI, -3.47 to -1.72). The pooled mean difference measured at the end of the intervention was -2.70 kg (95% CI, -3.69 to -1.71) among interventions lasting less than 13 weeks and -2.40 kg (95% CI, -4.44 to -0.37) among interventions of 13 to 26 weeks.

CONCLUSION: Short-term multicomponent interventions involving physical activity and nutrition can achieve weight loss for adults with overweight or obesity. Offering short-term interventions as alternatives to long-term ones may reach people who otherwise would be unwilling or unable to enroll in or complete longer programs.

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Physician 5 / 7
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Comments from MORE raters

Physician rater

Long-term weight loss is the key to clinical benefits. This review would have been more relevant if they reported weight loss outcomes at one or two years after the end of the intervention period. In the era of lower-risk bariatric surgery and the GLP-1 agonists plus dual and triple agonist therapy with much more substantial weight loss after years of follow-up, this is of minimal use for practicing clinicians.

Physician rater

It is not clear why we care about short-term weight loss, especially when it can be harmful.

Physician rater

Helpful systematic review and meta-analysis; sustainability remains a challenge.
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