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Anyone who has been on a diet knows the real challenge comes later, when you’ve got to fight tooth and nail to keep from regaining the lost weight.

Now, a new trial finds that regular “diet coaching” may help keep the weight off.

People were more likely to maintain successful weight loss if they took part in a series of post-diet coaching sessions conducted mostly by phone, said study author Corrine Voils. She is scientific director of the Wisconsin Surgical Outcomes Research Program at the University of Wisconsin.

Dieters who received coaching had only regained about a pound and half, on average, a year after their initial weight loss, Voils said. Successful dieters who received no follow-up coaching regained about 5 pounds.

Typically, most people tend to regain weight at a rate of about 2 to 4 pounds a year, the study authors said in background notes.

“The program did slow the rate of regain over that period,” Voils said.

Previous research has shown that people who are taught specific behavioral skills can better maintain weight loss, Voils said.

For this study, Voils and her colleagues combined several of those skills and regularly reinforced them with successful dieters during a 42-week period.

The participants were 222 patients at VA clinics in North Carolina who lost an average of 16 pounds as part of a structured weight-loss program.

Following their weight loss, these folks were randomly assigned to receive regular coaching from dietitians or were left to their own devices.

The coaching included a few group visits at first, but quickly transitioned into regular phone calls, Voils said.

“We started out with biweekly contacts, and then decreased to monthly and then to every two months,” she said.

The coaching hit on four major themes for weight-loss maintenance, Voils said.

The first involved weighing oneself regularly to identify any sudden weight gain. Patients were told to react if they noticed that they’d put back on 3 pounds.

“Once…



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