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National Weight Control Registry Reveals Diet and Exercise Habits of Successful Losers


New information on the behavior changes made by National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) members was presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity's (NAASO) 1996 annual meeting. The NWCR is an ongoing, nationwide study of 784 men and women who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least 1 year.

Mary L. Klem, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, presented registry findings and reported that 55 percent of the sample used a formal program to lose weight, 45 percent lost weight on their own, and nearly every subject (89 percent) modified both diet and physical activity to lose weight. To maintain their weight loss, 88 percent of registrants continue to watch their diets and exercise regularly.

Dr. Klem reported that despite an apparent predisposition to overweight, registrants lost an average of 66 pounds and maintained a minimum 30-pound loss for at least 5 1/2 years. Seventy-one percent of members reported being "childhood onset" obese, 25 percent had two parents who were obese, and 73 percent had 1 or 2 overweight parents. While all members meet the minimum weight-loss and maintenance requirements, some members have kept more weight off for longer periods. For example, one member maintained an 80-pound loss for almost 50 years.

The registry requires members to answer extensive questions about their weight histories and the methods they used to lose weight. When asked about specific behaviors, registry members said they most often decreased food intake by limiting the percentage of their calories coming from fat (one-third reported 20 percent or less of their daily calories come from fat), eating a variety of foods, and limiting portion sizes.

Registry members said they are very active. Seventy-two percent meet or exceed the American College of Sports Medicine's minimum exercise guideline for adults to perform 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most weekdays. Walking and aerobic dance were the most popular exercise activities.

When registrants were asked how this weight loss attempt was different from previous ones, members reported they had greater social or health reasons for losing weight and were more committed to making behavior changes. During this successful attempt, 81 percent exercised more, and 63 percent used a stricter dietary approach than they had during previous attempts. When members were asked, "Do you believe that the strategies you used to lose weight would be effective for others trying to lose weight?" more than 85 percent of members said yes.

In response to NWCR questions about their quality of life and relationships with other people, registrants claimed successful weight maintenance has led to significant improvements in their interactions with others, general health and well-being, and self-confidence.

Registry membership is confidential and free. Patients do not receive compensation. The registry, organized in 1995 by Rena Wing, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, and James Hill, Ph.D., University of Colorado, maintains data on people who have lost weight either on their own or with the help of a weight-loss program. The data are used to help researchers better understand the process of weight reduction and weight maintenance.

For more information, contact: Dr. Mary L. Klem, National Weight Control Registry, c/o Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213;
Phone: 1-800-606-NWCR.


 
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