Weight loss: new Australian study reveals potential key

You’ve heard it or read it before: “We’ve found the secret to weight loss!” Funnily enough, those secrets often seem to get discovered around New Year – resolution season. And such discoveries just happen to be made by companies looking to make some money and relieve you of not just a few kilos, but a few extra dollars, too.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as what they offer works, and works permanently.

Sadly, in many cases, the evidence of long-term success is non-existent, or sparse at best. However, new CSIRO research suggests we may have unlocked at least one of the keys to weight loss – tracking.

The CSIRO introduced its Total Wellbeing Diet (TWD) more than 15 years ago, and has been fine-tuning it since. The country’s national science agency has now analysed the data of more than 6000 participants and revealed its findings.

In the study’s first phase, the researchers mapped total weight loss of 6602 members who had completed the 12-week program. That mapping showed that 64 per cent lost a clinically significant amount (more than five kilograms) after one year. The participants also displayed sustained weight loss, averaging 10.6kg, or 11.9 per cent of their starting body weight.

But the researchers wanted to delve deeper, to try to identify specific aspects of the diet that helped most. To do this they focused on the group’s most successful participants, in terms of weight loss. This group lost an average of 22.3kg, equivalent to 21.7 per cent of their starting body weight.

For the second stage of the study, CSIRO scientists conducted a further study involving 738 participants via an online survey. In this phase they compared the participants’ usage patterns of various Total Wellbeing Diet platform features.

The results of the survey were revealing. Participants who achieved weight loss exceeding 10 per cent of their starting body weight used all of the TWD tools. These include weigh-ins, food diary, menu plan, exercise plan, program content, forum and food search. These participants numbered 50 per cent more than those who lost less than 5 per cent over the same time period.

Tracking, along with regular self-monitoring, it seems plays an important role in the success of weight loss attempts. These aspects also appear to contribute to the level of success – measured by the amount of weight lost, at least.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said the results highlighted the importance of using tools and support frameworks to educate around diet and nutrition. They are critical for ongoing societal health improvements, especially given that two-thirds of Australians are overweight or obese, she said.

“There are no quick fixes when it comes to sustainable weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, and this study helps us to show that weight loss comes from a range of regular actions and positive behaviours,” Dr Hendrie said.

“It’s repeatedly using Total Wellbeing Diet tools, while developing positive habits, that help people to come back to, and maintain, a healthy lifestyle.

“We’re really happy to have more research that reinforces the critical role that lifestyle and behaviour change plays in long-term weight loss and management,” she said.

It should be noted that the CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet is not free. Like other commercial weight loss plans it is only available for a fee. However, it does come with a refund of up to $199 for those who complete the program.

For those in search of a weight loss plan based on scientific research and hard evidence, the TWD seems a viable option.

Also read: Have we got weight loss wrong?

Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.


  1. Just more BS from carnival barkers trying to sell something. Healthy living is simple & it’s actually genetics that plays a major role in a persons health.
    That’s why you see people eating junk food , drinking , smoking & still have a good muscular physical appearance , some with minimal physical activity.

    Others, eat a healthy diet , drink very little, don’t smoke run everyday, do gym & still look like round shouldered , soft bellied schmucks. Unfortunately, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. The TV shows, biggest loser etc…..most of the contestants pack the weight back on.

    Moderation in everything, low stress lifestyle, sensible eating habits & regular exercise coupled with good genetics usually results in better long term health.

  2. I agree with Keith to a large extent. If the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has needed constant revision over the past 15 years, it must’ve been a crock of rubbish when first released and anyone who paid money for it then deserves a full refund regardless as to whether they completed it or not. (Of course by constantly revising it, it can be said that no-one has really completed it as there will always be another revision.)
    Genetics and family influences are major drivers here. If a person has been brought up in a family environment where nutritious home cooked meals in moderate portions and an active lifestyle was the norm, then that is what they will more likely mirror through their life.
    Avoid snacking and anything with added sugars and the kilos will stay in the pack.
    Mowing the lawn at least weekly is worth more than a gym membership.
    If there is an incentive for men to lose weight and keep it off is that little point that every extra couple of inches around the waist brings about a loss of effective length on the organ of procreation and recreation. Aside from the fact that one of the best exercises for overall health is a regular workout with a partner of that equipment.

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