National Weight Control Registry:
What can the successful losers teach us about weight loss?

Written by
Published in November 2006

national weight control registry( There is a growing trend toward being overweight or obese. Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) more than 25, and having a BMI of more than 30 is identified as being obese. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 66% of U.S. adults are overweight, and 32% of U.S. adults are obese, with the incidence of being overweight and obese among children being greater than ever! Given these statistics, it is not surprising that Americans spend more than $33 billion dollars a year on weight loss products and services, while at least one quarter of the population is working on weight loss regimens for themselves.

The National Weight Control Registry

The purpose of the National Weight Control Registry is to collect valuable information about the behaviors of those who have been able to maintain their weight loss over the long term. The NWCR is a database of more than 4,800 adults who report being successful at maintaining a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for a minimum of one year. Annual surveys are sent out to members to collect information about how they remain successful at preserving their weight loss. Here is some of the information collected from these registry members....

Methods Used to Lose Weight

  1. Most individuals used both diet (low calorie and fat intake) and physical activity to achieve and maintain their successful weight loss.
  2. 55% of participants used a formal program or professional assistance to help with weight loss, while 45% lost weight on their own.
  3. The majority of individuals report limiting the types of foods they would eat (avoiding fatty foods such as those that are fried, battered, or have fats added).
  4. Almost half of the participants indicated that they limited the quantity of food eaten (reducing their portions), but did not deprive themselves of specific foods.
  5. Approximately half of those surveyed indicated that they counted calories when losing weight (keeping track of what they ate).

Methods Used to Lose Weight

  1. The majority of members report continuing to limit the types of foods eaten, as they did when they were losing weight. They mostly follow a low calorie and low fat intake.
  2. Eating regular meals is reported to be a key to weight loss maintenance - and most participants indicate that they would eat breakfast daily.
  3. In order to keep track of their weight regularly and notice small "slips" (and weight regain), most members weigh themselves at least once a week, sometimes up to once a day.
  4. Most of those surveyed indicate being physically active for approximately one hour every day (or the equivalent of walking 4 miles/day).
  5. Success in maintaining weight loss over the long term (one to two years) was achieved by NWCR participants who were most consistent with physical activity and planning of dietary intake (low calorie and low fat diet) throughout weekdays, weekends, and holidays.
  6. The longer someone is able to maintain a weight loss (example: if they were able to preserve the weight loss for two to five years) the greater the chance of keeping the weight off.
  7. The variety of foods eaten is limited in order to control the calorie intake of foods. The most variety of foods eaten by the NWCR participants surveyed was from nutrient-dense food groups such as grains, fruits and vegetables.

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