Energy intake highs and lows: How much does consistency matter in weight control?

Diane L. Rosenbaum, Leah M. Schumacher, Katherine Schaumberg, Amani D. Piers, Monika E. Gaspar, Michael R. Lowe, Evan M. Forman, Meghan L. Butryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Behavioural weight control programmes recommend adherence to daily energy intake goals, yet also allow for flexibility in intake across days. Evidence is lacking as to whether intake consistency is important for weight control. The current study explored the relation between day-to-day intake consistency and weight loss in the context of behavioural weight loss treatment and examined the relationship between variability in intake and several factors known to be associated with weight control success. Participants (N= 283) enrolled in a 12-month behavioural weight loss programme completed 24-h recalls of dietary intake and psychological measures. At the end of treatment, low intake variability and greater weight loss were associated, but variability was not predictive of weight loss independent of mean intake in continuous analyses. Interestingly, participants who met the programme goal of ≥10% weight loss had less intake variability compared to those who lost <10%, although groups did not differ significantly on mean intake. Results suggest that daily intake consistency may facilitate successful weight loss for some. Additionally, autonomous motivation for weight management and cognitive dietary restraint were inversely related to end-of-treatment intake variability. Additional research is needed to examine whether recommendations to limit intake variability during behavioural weight loss treatment improve long-term weight control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalClinical obesity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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