Physical Activity, Weight Loss, and Weight Maintenance in the DiOGenes Multicenter Trial

Marleen A. van Baak*, Gabby Hul, Arne Astrup, Wim H. Saris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this secondary analysis of the DiOGenes study, we investigated whether physical activity (PA) contributes to diet-induced weight loss and helps to reduce subsequent regain. We also studied the associations of PA with changes in cardiometabolic variables. Adults with overweight were included and followed an 8-week low-calorie diet (LCD). When successful (>8% weight loss), participants were randomized to different ad libitum diet groups and were advised to maintain their weight loss over the 6-month intervention period. Body weight (BW), body composition, cardiometabolic variables and subjectively-assessed PA were measured at baseline, at the end of weight loss and at the end of the intervention. BW was reduced by the LCD (from 99.8 +/- 16.7 to 88.4 +/- 14.9 kg; P < 0.001). This reduction was maintained during the weight maintenance period (89.2 +/- 16.0 kg). Total PA (sum score of the three subscales of the Baecke questionnaire) increased during the weight loss period (from 8.16 +/- 0.83 to 8.39 +/- 0.78; P < 0.001) and this increase was subsequently maintained (8.42 +/- 0.90). We found no evidence that baseline PA predicted weight loss. However, a higher level of baseline PA predicted a larger weight-loss-induced improvement in total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and CRP, and in post-prandial insulin sensitivity (Matsuda index). Subsequent weight and fat mass maintenance were predicted by the post-weight loss level of PA and associated with changes in PA during the weight maintenance phase. In conclusion, despite the fact that higher baseline levels of PA did not predict more weight loss during the LCD, nor that an increase in PA during the LCD was associated with more weight loss, higher PA levels were associated with more improvements in several cardiometabolic variables. The positive effect of higher PA on weight loss maintenance seems in contrast to randomized controlled trials that have not been able to confirm a positive effect of exercise training programmes on weight loss maintenance. This analysis supports the notion that higher self-imposed levels of PA may improve the cardiometabolic risk profile during weight loss and help to maintain weight loss afterwards.

Original languageEnglish
Article number683369
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in nutrition
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


  • obesity
  • exercise
  • weight regain
  • diet
  • metabolic health

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