UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Methodological quality of behavioural weight loss studies: a systematic review

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Preventive Medicine | Psychiatry and Psychology | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies


This systematic review assessed the methodological quality of behavioural weight loss intervention studies conducted among adults and associations between quality and statistically significant weight loss outcome, strength of intervention effectiveness and sample size. Searches for trials published between January, 2009 and December, 2014 were conducted using PUBMED, MEDLINE and PSYCINFO and identified ninety studies. Methodological quality indicators included study design, anthropometric measurement approach, sample size calculations, intent-to-treat (ITT) analysis, loss to follow-up rate, missing data strategy, sampling strategy, report of treatment receipt and report of intervention fidelity (mean = 6.3). Indicators most commonly utilized included randomized design (100%), objectively measured anthropometrics (96.7%), ITT analysis (86.7%) and reporting treatment adherence (76.7%). Most studies (62.2%) had a follow-up rate > 75% and reported a loss to follow-up analytic strategy or minimal missing data (69.9%). Describing intervention fidelity (34.4%) and sampling from a known population (41.1%) were least common. Methodological quality was not associated with reporting a statistically significant result, effect size or sample size. This review found the published literature of behavioural weight loss trials to be of high quality for specific indicators, including study design and measurement. Identified for improvement include utilization of more rigorous statistical approaches to loss to follow up and better fidelity reporting.


Intervention, quality, review, weight loss

DOI of Published Version



Obes Rev. 2016 Jul;17(7):636-44. doi: 10.1111/obr.12412. Epub 2016 Apr 12. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity

PubMed ID