Monthly contact with a personal counsellor can help dieters to maintain weight loss, a new study has found.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Centre studied 1,032 overweight and obese adults who were being treated for high blood pressure or cholesterol and had already succeeded in losing at least 8.8 lbs during a six-month weight loss programme.
Some of the participants were given monthly person-to-person guidance and support, while others received minimal support.
Thirty months later, individuals in the personal-contact group had typically regained 3.3lbs less weight than those in the self-directed group.
Commenting on the findings, which are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, lead author Dr Laura Svetkey, professor of medicine at Duke, said: "The results of this study send a strong signal to those who seem to believe that obesity is such an intractable problem that nothing can be done about it.
"Our patients have shown that under the right conditions, long-term weight control is an achievable goal worth pursuing."