Skip to Content

What produces successful long-term weight loss?

Woman on weight scaleThe National Weight Registry studied people who lost at least 30 pounds of weight and kept it off for at least a year. Most of the participants were white women, but men and people of other ethnic backgrounds contributed.

About 55 percent of the participants lost weight with a structured weight loss program, but 45 percent did it all on their own. Weight loss ranged from 30 pounds up to 300 pounds and was maintained from one to 66 years.

These individuals exercised about 60 minutes a day at least five or more days a week. The women reported an average caloric intake for maintenance of around 1200 per day while the men reported about 1700 calories per day. They typically followed this regimen consistently, even on holidays and weekends.

Some participants did use liquid formulas to assist with weight loss, but these individuals reported having a harder time maintaining their weight than those who did not use a formula. Those who used a formula, however, tended to be heavier, older and had more medical problems. They also were not able to exercise as vigorously as other participants.

The participants also weighed at least weekly and sometimes daily. If they noticed any pounds creeping back on, they immediately evaluated their eating and activity habits and corrected any situations that might sabotage their efforts.

The Registry also studied people who eventually gained weight back. These people became less active over time and were less restrictive about food intake. In other words, they tended to return to their original eating and activity habits.

The good news is that people who maintained their new lifestyle and weight loss over time did find that it got easier. This gives hope to everyone struggling to lose and maintain their weight.