All is not lost for chronic dieters with roller-coaster weight issues. Obesity experts have long maintained that it doesn’t matter what kind of diet people follow to lose weight initially, it’s preventing its unwanted return that’s another matter. To break this maddening cycle, a solution exists that has nothing to do with magic diet pills or costly surgery. And it’s free. Just sign up and join the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), founded by doctors from Brown Medical School and the University of Colorado.
So what is the secret of their success? According to data complied by NWCR, 45 percent of participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55 percent lost weight with the help of some type of diet program. But there are two stats that leap out: 98 percent of participants report that they modified their food intake such as eating reduced portion sizes, and 94 percent increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity listed as walking.
The goal of the registry is to investigate long-term successful weight-loss maintenance since they recognized the problems most people have in permanently staying within a target weight. The registry currently tracks more than 5,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time. To be eligible for inclusion in the Registry, you need to have shed at least 30 lbs. and not gained it back for at least three years. According to its website, “detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys are used to examine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of weight maintainers, as well as the strategies they use to maintaining their weight losses.”
Eighty percent of NWCR’s volunteers are women. The average woman is 45 years of age and currently weights 145 lbs., while the average man is 49 years of age and currently weighs 190 lbs. Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs. and kept it off for five-and-a-half years.
It’s exercising that makes a significant impact on weight-loss results: 90 percent of participants exercise on average about one hour per day. Surprisingly, most volunteers don’t adhere to a low-carb diet since it is hard to sustain for long periods. But keeping track of calories is something they almost all do. If a NWCR member backslides and has several off days of overeating, she will typically eat less in the days that follow. These mini-weight swings are much more manageable than experiencing a large weight gain that is then followed by yet another crash diet.