How Do People Successfully Keep Weight Off?

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
scale, image by Flickr user Sharyn Morrow
Sharyn Morrow (by-nc-nd)

The National Weight Control Registry tracks people’s successful weight loss and what the commonalities are among them. Larry Meiller finds out how to improve our chances of keeping weight off once we lose it. [Originally broadcast on January 28, 2014]

Featured in this Show

  • Secrets To Maintaining Weight Loss

    Obesity in the U.S. is a huge problem.

    According to James Hill, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado, about one-third of American adults are considered to be obese and another third is in the overweight range, which puts them at risk of becoming obese.

    “That means that only one-third of our population is at a normal weight. So, we have a problem that literally affects the majority of our population,” Hill said.

    Hill is also one of the developers of the National Weight Control Registry.

    Hill said that the registry “is one of those projects that literally started over a drink.” He and colleague Rena Wing were catching up at a conference, and talk turned on their shared topic of weight loss to “everybody has the sense that nobody is succeeding out there, I wonder if there are people that are succeeding. And we kind of looked at each other like, ‘That’s a great idea!’”

    Wing and Hill started investigating and found that there are a lot of people who in fact have successfully kept off lost weight. Hill explained that their approach is to “see what they’re doing, see what the factors that are helping them succeed are, and maybe that will help other people be more successful.” Hill said it’s a little bit of “reverse engineering: ‘We’ll start with who’s succeeding and go from there!’”

    To be a member of the registry, Hill said a person has to have maintained at least a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year. There are now more 10,000 people on the registry, which has been in place for over a decade.

    Hill said that one interesting finding is that there aren’t many commonalities in how people lost the weight. According to the website of the National Weight Control Registry:

    • 45 percent of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55 percent lost weight with the help of some type of program.
    • 98 percent of registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
    • 94 percent increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.

    Of course, there’s losing the weight, but the harder part is often keeping the weight off. According to the website of the National Weight Control Registry, their registry members have achieved that in the following ways:

    • 78 percent eat breakfast every day.
    • 75 percent weigh themselves at least once a week.
    • 62 percent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
    • 90 percent exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

    The National Weight Control Registry also has some success stories to inspire people working to lose weight.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Dr. James Hill Guest

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