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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

National Weight Control Registry


The National Weight Control Registry is a joint research study conducted by professors at Brown University and the University of Colorado. It has tracked the lifestyle and habits of over 5000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and successfully kept it off for at least 18 months. The average amount of weight lost by the research participants is 66 pounds and they have kept it off for an average of 5.5 years. The purpose of the study is not to track how much weight is lost, but how did the participants lose the weight and keep it off long-term. Here are some of the results from the study:

98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.

Look at it this way, your current weight is the net result of your current food intake and activity levels. If you want to control your weight, you must change something. You can either eat smaller portions (less calories) of the same foods, or you can eat foods with fewer calories (less calorie dense foods), but to make a positive change your food intake "must be modified in some way".

94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

The often heard recommendation from the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and the CDC is 30 minutes of moderate exercise, most days of the week. This is to improve health, but other studies have shown that more is required to lose weight and maintain a lower weight. If these successful weight losers are any indication, a lot more than the "health" recommendation is needed for weight loss.

78% eat breakfast every day.

Skipping any meal, especially breakfast is a bad idea. You will eat even more calories than are saved by not eating the meal at some later time. You can't starve you body into weight loss submission.

75% weigh them self at least once a week.

The rationale behind this is simple...you need feedback to know where you stand. Due to food intake, dehydration, etc. weighing daily can result in +/- 3 pounds of weight difference. This is normal. A sustained increase of a pound or two over a 1-2 week period is what you are looking for to indicate a weight gain. If you see this, then tighten up your eating and exercise more to get a grip on the gain before it gets worse. It's much easier to lose 1 or 2 pounds than 10, 15, or more.

62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

The national average is over 28 hours per week of television watching. If you "don't have time" to exercise and you are watching 4 hours a night of television, you need to reconsider your priorities and turn off the TV and get moving.

42% of the sample reported that maintaining their weight loss was less difficult than losing weight.

Making the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight is much more difficult than continuing those habits once you've incorporated. Another aspect of this is that losing weight requires a calorie deficit...you eat less than you need/want. Maintaining your weight just requires that you not overeat.

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