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
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;