Habit of Sucessful "Weight Maintainers"

90 percent of people who lose weight and keep it off for at least a year exercise an hour per day.

The long-term National Weight Loss Registry project in the US tracks individuals who have lost at least 30 lb and kept it off for at least a year. The following characteristics have been identified in these "weight maintainers":

  • 80% of persons in the registry are women and 20% are men.
  • The "average" woman is 45 years of age and currently weighs 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 5.5 years.
  • These averages, however, hide a lot of diversity:
  • Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
  • Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years!
  • Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly--over as many as 14 years.

We have also started to learn about how the weight loss was accomplished: 45% of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.

  • 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
  • 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.

There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.

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

It is helpful to learn about how others have accomplished long-term weight loss, and use this information to inform our own behavior.