Managing and treating obesity is complex1. You’ve probably tried diets and exercise regimes. Perhaps they’ve worked in the short term, but most people find they regain the weight they lose, and more2.

That’s because your body senses weight loss and actively tries to return you to your starting weight. Your body does this in two ways.

First, the amount of energy your body uses (when resting or exercising) is less than what your body is expecting to use based on your weight and body composition1,3,4,5. Your body slows down your metabolism and this change can last for years, even if you regain the weight you have lost.

Secondly, your hormones change to make you hungrier, which also pushes your weight back up1,3,4,5.

No matter how hard you try, it’s like your body is working against you. It’s pretty demoralising, isn’t it?

It’s normal for some treatments to work for some people and not for others. A wide variety of responses to treatment is normal.

Select from 3 options below

Intensive Lifestyle Change
Weight Loss Medication
Bariatric Surgery

Intensive Lifestyle Change: Diet and Exercise7†

8 year long diet and exercise intervention with weekly multi-disciplinary medical care for 6 months and monthly sessions for 8 years.

variation of weight loss response


ended up weighing more than their starting weight7†


kept off less than 
5% of their 
starting weight7†


reached and kept off more than 5% of their starting weight7†

people losing more than 20% of starting weight is unknown as was not reported in this study7†

Weight Loss GLP-1 Medications8,9,10

Roughly one year after stopping weekly semaglutide injections: treatment was combined with diet and exercise.

variation of weight loss response


ended up weighing more than their starting weight8


kept off less than 
5% of their starting weight8,9,10


kept off 5-20% of their starting weight8,9,10


kept off more than 20% of their starting weight for 1 year after stopping injections8,9

Bariatric Surgeries11,12,13,14,#

5 years after Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy: surgery combined with diet and exercise.

variation of weight loss response

Less than 1 in 1000 ended up weighing more than their starting weight11,13


kept off <5% of their starting 


estimated to have kept off 5-20% of their starting weight13


kept off more than 20% of their starting weight at 5 years after surgery14,Ω

It is normal for patients to try to lose weight 3-4 times prior to pursuing surgery.^

Individual results vary. Risks and benefits of each treatment vary widely and should be discussed with a doctor. † The LookAhead Intensive Lifestyle Change study focused on people with Type 2 diabetes and provided much more medical coaching and individual nutritional and exercise support than most people receive. For both reasons, weight loss responses may vary from the general population. >20% weight loss was not reported, but roughly 5 in 20 people kept of >10% of their starting weight.. N=2,114.

‡ Some variation comes from different surgery procedures. For people that had Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, less than 1 in 20 people had <5% total weigh loss five years after surgery. For people who had Sleeve Gastrectomy, 2 in 20 had <5% total weight loss five years after surgery. N=16,691.

Ω Variation with different surgery procedures. 16 out of 20 sleeve gastrectomy patients maintained >20% total weight loss 5 years after surgery. 18 out 20 roux-en-y gastric bypass patients maintained >20% TWL 5 years after surgery.

#Below patient-proportions are from 4 separate studies.

^In the US, approximately 60% of patients in surgical pipeline have already tried pharma approaches.

Weight loss treatments

There are many health and lifestyle benefits to losing weight. You can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Even if you’ve tried again and again in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight. There are treatment options for obesity, and they can be successful.

You don’t need to tackle this problem alone. Obesity is a chronic disease. Like any chronic disease, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare professional about the right obesity treatment for you.

Lifestyle changes
Prescription Medicine
Weight loss surgery

1 World Health Organisation Obesity and Overweight Fact Sheet, 9 June 2021 Available at December 2021.

2 RACGP. Obesity prevention and management position statement 2019. Available at, accessed December 2021.

3 Dulloo, A. Explaining the failures of obesity therapy: willpower attenuation, target miscalculation or metabolic compensation?. Int J Obes 361418–1420 (2012).

4 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2017. Impact of overweight and obesity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of Disease Study. Available at, Accessed September 2019.

5 RACP Action to prevent obesity and reduce its impact across the life course – Evidence Review. 2018. Available at Accessed December 2019

6 ANZOS and ADS. 2020. The Australian Obesity Management Algorithm. Available at: . Accessed December 2021.

7 Look Ahead research group. Eight year weight losses with an intensive lifestyle intervention: the look Ahead study. Obesity. 2014.

8 Wilding JPH, Batterham RL, Davies M, et al. Weight regain and cardiometabolic effects after withdrawal of semaglutide. The STEP 1 trial extension.. Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. 2022.

9 Rubino D, Abrahamsson N, Davies M, et al. Effect of Continued Weekly Subcutaneous Semaglutide vs Placebo on Weight Loss Maintenance in Adults With Overweight or Obesity: The STEP 4 Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2021;325(14):1414-1425. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.3224

10 Internal analysis of STEP 1 Extension and STEP 4 semaglutide withdrawal patients weight loss response rates. October 2023.

11 Tettero OM, Monpellier VM, Janssen MC et al. Early postpoperative weight loss predicts weight loss up to 5 years after roux-en-y gastric bypass, banded roux-en-y gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy. Obesity Surgery. 2022.

12 Arterburn DE, Telem DA, Kushner RF, Courcoulas AP. Benefits and Risks of Bariatric Surgery in Adults: A Review. Jama. 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12567

13 Internal analysis of weight loss response and weight regain higher than baseline. 2023.

14 Sanchez-Cordero, Sergi t al. Analysis of the variability in different criteria to define the success of bariatric surgery: retrospective study 5-year follow-up after Sleeve Gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. J clin Med. 2023. doi: 10.3390/jcm12010187