Weight regain and mental health outcomes following behavioural weight management programmes: A systematic review with meta-analyses.
Theodoulou A., Hartmann-Boyce J., Gorenberg J., Oke JL., Butler AR., Bastounis A., Jebb SA., Aveyard P.
Behavioural weight management programmes (BWMPs) lead to weight loss but subsequent weight regain may harm mental health outcomes. We searched for randomised trials of BWMPs in adults with overweight/obesity with follow-up ≥12 months from baseline that measured weight change both at and after programme-end. We included only studies reporting mental health at or after programme-end. We meta-analysed changes in various mental health outcomes using a random-effects model by nature of the comparator group and by time since programme end. Subgroup analysis explored heterogeneity. We used mixed models and meta-regression to analyse the association between change in weight and change in depression and/or anxiety over time, with higher scores indicating greater depression and/or anxiety. We included 47 studies. When comparing BWMPs (diet and/or exercise) to control, most estimates included the possibility of no difference, but pooled estimates for psychological wellbeing, self-esteem and mental-health composite scores at programme-end, anxiety at 1-6 months, and depression at 7-12 months after programme-end suggested improvements in intervention arms relative to control, with 95% CIs excluding no difference. Pooled estimates found no evidence that BWMPs harmed mental health at programme end or beyond. Mental health composite scores at programme-end favoured diet and exercise interventions over diet alone, with 95% CIs excluding no difference. All other measures and timepoints included the possibility of no difference or could not be meta-analysed due to high heterogeneity or a paucity of data. Mixed models and meta-regression of the association between change in depression and/or anxiety scores over time, and change in weight, were inconclusive. Despite weight regain after BWMPs, our meta-analyses found no evidence of mental health harm and some evidence that BWMPs may improve some dimensions of mental health at and after programme-end.