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Behavioural intervention for weight loss maintenance versus standard weight advice in adults with obesity: A randomised controlled trial in the UK (NULevel Trial)

Sniehotta, Falko F.; Evans, Elizabeth H.; Sainsbury, Kirby; Adamson, Ashley; Batterham, Alan; Becker, Frauke; Brown, Heather; Dombrowski, Stephan U.; Jackson, Dan; Howell, Denise; Ladha, Karim; McColl, Elaine; Olivier, Patrick; Rothman, Alexander J.; Steel, Alison; Vale, Luke; Vieira, Rute; White, Martin; Wright, Peter; Araújo-Soares, Vera

Behavioural intervention for weight loss maintenance versus standard weight advice in adults with obesity: A randomised controlled trial in the UK (NULevel Trial) Thumbnail


Falko F. Sniehotta

Kirby Sainsbury

Ashley Adamson

Alan Batterham

Frauke Becker

Heather Brown

Stephan U. Dombrowski

Dan Jackson

Denise Howell

Karim Ladha

Elaine McColl

Patrick Olivier

Alexander J. Rothman

Alison Steel

Luke Vale

Rute Vieira

Martin White

Peter Wright

Vera Araújo-Soares


Background: Scalable weight loss maintenance (WLM) interventions for adults with obesity are lacking but vital for the health and economic benefits of weight loss to be fully realised. We examined the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a low-intensity technology-mediated behavioural intervention to support WLM in adults with obesity after clinically significant weight loss (≥5%) compared to standard lifestyle advice. Methods and findings: The NULevel trial was an open-label randomised controlled superiority trial in 288 adults recruited April 2014 to May 2015 with weight loss of ≥5% within the previous 12 months, from a pre-weight loss BMI of ≥30 kg/m2. Participants were self-selected, and the majority self-certified previous weight loss. We used a web-based randomisation system to assign participants to either standard lifestyle advice via newsletter (control arm) or a technology-mediated low-intensity behavioural WLM programme (intervention arm). The intervention comprised a single face-to-face goal-setting meeting, self-monitoring, and remote feedback on weight, diet, and physical activity via links embedded in short message service (SMS). All participants were provided with wirelessly connected weighing scales, but only participants in the intervention arm were instructed to weigh themselves daily and told that they would receive feedback on their weight. After 12 months, we measured the primary outcome, weight (kilograms), as well as frequency of self-weighing, objective physical activity (via accelerometry), psychological variables, and cost-effectiveness. The study was powered to detect a between-group weight difference of ±2.5 kg at follow-up. Overall, 264 participants (92%) completed the trial. Mean weight gain from baseline to 12 months was 1.8 kg (95% CI 0.5–3.1) in the intervention group (n = 131) and 1.8 kg (95% CI 0.6–3.0) in the control group (n = 133). There was no evidence of an effect on weight at 12 months (difference in adjusted mean weight change from baseline: −0.07 [95% CI 1.7 to −1.9], p = 0.9). Intervention participants weighed themselves more frequently than control participants and were more physically active. Intervention participants reported greater satisfaction with weight outcomes, more planning for dietary and physical activity goals and for managing lapses, and greater confidence for healthy eating, weight loss, and WLM. Potential limitations, such as the use of connected weighing study in both trial arms, the absence of a measurement of energy intake, and the recruitment from one region of the United Kingdom, are discussed. Conclusions: There was no difference in the WLM of participants who received the NULevel intervention compared to participants who received standard lifestyle advice via newsletter. The intervention affected some, but not all, process-related secondary outcomes of the trial. Trial registration: This trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry (ISRCTN 14657176; registration date 20 March 2014).


Sniehotta, F. F., Evans, E. H., Sainsbury, K., Adamson, A., Batterham, A., Becker, F., …Araújo-Soares, V. (2019). Behavioural intervention for weight loss maintenance versus standard weight advice in adults with obesity: A randomised controlled trial in the UK (NULevel Trial). PLoS Medicine, 16(5), Article e1002793.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 28, 2019
Online Publication Date May 7, 2019
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Feb 11, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 2, 2022
Journal PLoS Medicine
Print ISSN 1549-1277
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 5
Article Number e1002793


Published Journal Article (901 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2019 Sniehotta et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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