Do fat cell morphometrics predict weight loss maintenance?

G. W. Strain, J. J. Strain, B. Zumoff, J. Knittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A comprehensive psychosocial approach was used to treat 44 otherwise healthy obese patients, 49-332 percent above desirable weight, whose fat cell morphometric arbitrarily placed them into three groups: seven with predominant fat-cell hypertrophy, 18 with predominant hyperplasia, and 19 with mixed hypertrophy and hyperplasia. Continuous psychological support was provided to all patients, and life-style was altered by nutrition education and behavior modification. Psychiatric referral was made when indicated. Four of the 45 patients, who were refractory to treatment, were referred for surgery. Successful treatment was defined as maintenance of a weight loss of 18 kg or more for one year. Two of the seven hypertrophic, seven of the 18 hyperplastic, and 11 of the 19 mixed hypertrophic-hyperplastic patients had successful results without surgery. Overall success rate was 45 percent, and did not differ significantly according to fat cell morphometrics. Although the greater weight losses were maintained in correlation with the extent of hyperplasia P < 0.005, the percentage weight change from intake weights was similar. In summary, a program of continuous psychological support, nutrition education, and behavior modification resulted in a substantially higher rate of successful one-year maintenance of weight loss than is generally reported for the treatment of markedly obese patients. Further long-term follow-up is in progress. In contradiction to predictions based on adipose cell morphometrics, those patients with simple hypertrophy of their fat cells were not more successful in maintaining a weight change. Although maintenance varied from 18.2 kg to 52 kg for those successfully treated, a weight loss of approximately 20 percent of the intake was sustained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


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