Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


Study aims to help adults maintain weight loss

27 February 2012

A team of researchers from Cardiff University, University of Glamorgan, Swansea University and the University of Leeds led by Dr Sharon Simpson from Cardiff’s Institute of Primary Care and Public Health have been awarded £1.5M to conduct a study examining an intervention which aims to help adults who have lost weight to maintain their weight loss in the longer term.

The Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults (WILMA) study has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme.

In light of the current obesity epidemic, a great deal of research effort has been devoted to looking at ways to encourage people to lose weight, however there are few studies specifically examining maintenance of weight loss.

Dr Simpson from Cardiff’s University’s Institute of Primary Care and Public Health said: "There is some evidence which indicates that maintenance interventions are associated with smaller weight gains when compared to no contact, however the prevention of weight regain remains a challenge and around a third of the weight lost during an intervention is regained in the following year.

"We need to find ways to help those who are successful at losing weight to keep that weight off in the longer term so that the individuals can benefit from the health gains associated with the weight loss."

Many people are motivated enough to lose weight by dieting and/or exercise, however, maintaining these behaviours is challenging and therefore enhancing motivation will be crucial to continued maintenance of healthy behaviours.

Motivational Interviewing will be the key ingredient of the intervention which will be delivered to 633 adults across England and Wales.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a counselling technique which enhances motivation for change. Other aspects of the intervention include self monitoring of behaviour and peer support groups.

Dr Simpson adds: "This trial will be one of the biggest trials ever conducted using motivational interviewing and it builds on decades of work completed here at Cardiff and further enhances our reputation in this area of research. This funding has given obesity research an important boost."

The study, which started recruitment in Summer 2011, aims to recruit 950 people across England and Wales and is supported by the South East Wales Trials Unit based in Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.

Notes to editor

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.

Further information is available at: or by contacting:

Dr Sharon Simpson

Cardiff University

School of Medicine
Tel: 029 2068 7181