Regaining lost weight isn't inevitable: Some people are able to lose a substantial amount of weight and keep it off at least a decade, a new analysis shows.
Researchers are tracking successful dieters in the National Weight Control Registry, a group of 10,000 people who have lost 30 pounds or more and maintained that loss for a year or more. Participants fill out lifestyle questionnaires every year.
For the latest analysis, researchers reviewed the questionnaires of 3,000 members who have been in the registry for 10 years. About three-quarters are women; most are college-educated. Among the findings presented recently at a meeting of the Obesity Society:
- Participants weighed an average of 224 pounds before their weight loss. They dropped an average of 69 pounds.
- They had maintained an average of a 52-pound loss at five years and an average of a 51-pound loss at 10 years.
Some gradual regain over time is typical, but almost all participants maintained a substantial weight loss even after 10 years, says Graham Thomas, co-investigator of the registry, an assistant professor at Brown University in Providence.
Sometimes people "are very fatalistic about the chances of losing weight and maintaining the loss," but the Weight Control Registry group is successful at keeping it off for several reasons, Thomas says.
Registry members usually:
- Track their food intake.
- Count calorie or fat grams or use a commercial weight-loss program to track food intake.
- Follow a low-calorie, low-fat diet. They take in about 1,800 calories a day and less than 30 percent of calories from fat.
- Eat breakfast regularly.
- Limit the amount they eat out. They dine out an average of three times a week and eat fast food less than once a week.
- Eat similar foods regularly and don't splurge much on holidays and special occasions.
- Walk about an hour a day or burn the same calories with other activities.
- Watch fewer than 10 hours of TV a week.
- Weigh themselves at least once a week.
By Nanci Hellmich