This chapter summarizes the factors correlated with obesity-treatment outcomes. We discuss these factors in terms of providing recommendations for both obesity treatment and research, but for the reasons that follow, we have not incorporated them directly into our criteria for evaluating weight-management approaches.
Currently available obesity treatments are not producing the desired long-term outcomes for most dieters, so the predictors of favorable outcomes remain unknown. Most of the relevant information is based on results from clinical or research programs. Therefore, the available information on predictors of weight maintenance is most relevant to individuals who enroll in these programs, continue to attend the programs once enrolled (i.e., do not drop out after a few treatment sessions), and have follow-up assessments of weight change and associated variables. It is important to point out that such individuals probably do not represent those in the general population who are overweight or even those motivated to lose weight (Brownell, 1993), if only because they do not have access to such programs. More saliently, they may include a high proportion of persons who have failed on their own or in commercial programs and who thus may be less predisposed either physiologically or psychologically to achieve long-term weight maintenance (Brownell, 1993).