Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found a way to offer obese people a clearer understanding of how they can achieve sustainable weight loss.
Many individuals who are carrying excess weight struggle to not only lose the extra pounds initially, but also find it difficult to maintain this in the long term.
Published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, the new study found if people are able to keep the weight off for a year, they have a much higher chance of maintaining it.
Associate professor Signe Sorensen Torekov from the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research said: "This study shows that if an overweight person is able to maintain an initial weight loss - in this case for a year - the body will eventually 'accept' this new weight and thus not fight against it, as is otherwise normally the case when you are in a calorie-deficit state."
The research analysed 20 healthy but obese people for eight weeks. During this time, they followed a low-calorie powder diet and lost 13 per cent of their body weight, on average.
After this initial weight loss, they participated in a year-long weight maintenance programme, which involved regular meetings with a dietician to give them lifestyle advice about how to keep the weight off.
During this period, they were allowed to replace up to two meals per day with a low-calorie diet product.
The study's main finding was that after a year of successful weight loss maintenance, levels of two appetite-inhibiting hormones increased, compared to before they started their journey. In addition, the team also found that the hunger hormone, which increased immediately after weight loss, returned to normal levels after a year.
According to the experts, this means that the body is able to adjust to a new 'set point' after this amount of time, encouraging long-term maintenance of weight loss.
Dr Torekov said: "The interesting and uplifting news in this study is that if you are able to maintain your weight loss for a longer period of time, it seems as if you have 'passed the critical point', and after this point, it will actually become easier for you to maintain your weight loss than is was immediately after the initial weight loss."
"Thus, the body is no longer fighting against you, but actually with you, which is good news for anyone trying to lose weight," he explained.
Maintaining a healthy weight can be important in elderly care, especially if a person already has a condition that can be affected by it. From dementia to diabetes, a number of health problems can be improved by being able to stay at a healthy weight.
Find the nearest Barchester care home.