Clinical Summary

Weight Loss to Prevent Obesity-Related Morbidity and Mortality in Adults: Behavioral Interventions

September 18, 2018

Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Population Adults with a BMI ≥30a
Recommendation Offer or refer to intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions.
Grade: B
Risk Assessment More than 35% of men and 40% of women in the United States have obesity. Obesity is associated with health problems such as increased risk for coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, various types of cancer, gallstones, and disability. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk for death, particularly among adults younger than 65 years.
  • Effective intensive behavioral interventions were designed to help participants achieve or maintain a ≥5% weight loss through a combination of dietary changes and increased physical activity
  • Most interventions lasted for 1 to 2 years, and the majority had ≥12 sessions in the first year
  • Most behavioral interventions focused on problem solving to identify barriers, self-monitoring of weight, peer support, and relapse prevention
  • Interventions also provided tools to support weight loss or weight loss maintenance (eg, pedometers, food scales, or exercise videos)
Relevant USPSTF Recommendations The USPSTF has made recommendations on screening for abnormal blood glucose levels and type 2 diabetes, screening for high blood pressure, statin use in persons at risk for cardiovascular disease, counseling for tobacco smoking cessation, aspirin use in certain persons for prevention of cardiovascular disease, behavioral counseling interventions to promote a healthful diet and physical activity for cardiovascular disease prevention in adults with and without common risk factors, and screening for obesity in children and adolescents.

a Calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement, and supporting documents, please go to