Work package 4: The study of obese women – University of Copenhagen

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Work package 4

The study of obese women

Work package-leader: Jørn Wulff Helge

Work package 4 will determine which physiological and psychological factors that characterize young (20-40y) and middle aged (40-55y) women and men that are successful in maintaining weight loss in response to intensive lifestyle intervention.

BackgrounTil toppend

Overweight and obesity are global as well as national problems that challenge health throughout the lifespan. It is well accepted that major lifestyle modifications, where energy intake is decreased and/or energy expenditure is increased, will favourably change the energy balance and lead to changes in body-weight and -composition (Helge et al 2011; Nordby et al 2012). However, rather than losing weight, the major problem is the ability to maintain weight loss and adherence to a changed lifestyle over time. The success rate of many lifestyle intervention programs over time is low and at present there are no satisfactory solutions to overcome this barrier (Christiansen et al 2007). The problem is clearly multifaceted and challenges physiological as well as psychological aspects (Ohsiek et al 2011). Knowledge is lacking that can explain, at least in part, what can help maintain long-term weight loss and adherence to lifestyle changes and what characterizes patients/subjects that are successful in maintain weight loss.

Til toppen Overall aim

To study which physiological and psychological factors characterize young and middle aged women that are successful in maintaining weight loss.

Til toppenHypotheses

  • Participants that maintain a high physical activity level will be more successful in maintaining weight loss and will show stronger motivation and higher quality of life.
  • Motivational factors will differentiate between successful and less-successful weight losers.


A combined cross-sectional and longitudinal approach will be taken. Young (20-40 yrs) and middle aged (40-55 yrs) obese (BMI>30) women and men participating in an Ubberup Højskole lifestyle intervention course will be followed before and after 15 weeks of intensive lifestyle intervention as well as 3 and 12 months after the intervention. In addition a database of former participants will be used to recruit participants into two groups; having achieved either successful or non-successful weight loss maintenance. In both the longitudinal and the cross sectional design the participants will be subjected to basic evaluation (as indicated in the legend to figure 1) as well as clinical evaluation including blood samples and muscle and adipose tissue biopsies. Molecular signaling mechanisms in this context will be studied by the use of methods already existing in the laboratory or via development in WP5. Furthermore, qualitative psychological assessment will be performed to determine characteristics that may explain differences between groups.

Til toppen References

Helge JW, Stallknecht B, Drachmann T, Hellgren LI, Jimenez-Jimenez R, Andersen JL, Richelsen B and Bruun JM. Improved glucose tolerance after intensive life style intervention occurs without changes in muscle ceramide or triacylglycerol in morbidly obese subjects. Acta Physiol (Oxf) 201: 357-364, 2011.

Nordby P, Auerbach PL, Rosenkilde M, Kristiansen L, Thomasen JR, Rygaard L, Groth R, Brandt N, Helge JW, Richter EA, Ploug T and Stallknecht B. Endurance training per se increases metabolic health in young, moderately overweight men. Obesity (Silver Spring) 20:2202-2212, 2012.

Christiansen T, Bruun JM, Madsen EL and Richelsen B. Weight loss maintenance in severely obese adults after an intensive lifestyle intervention: 2- to 4-year follow-up. Obesity (Silver Spring) 15: 413-420, 2007.

Ohsiek S and Williams M. Psychological factors influencing weight loss maintenance: an integrative literature review. J Am Acad Nurse Pract 23: 592-601, 2011.

Time Schedule

Til toppenResearchers

Researchers, work package 4