Keeping weight off should really be your initial and your ongoing goal in a weight loss program. Current belief is that keeping off at least 5-10% of your initial weight is the goal of treatment. Many people in weight loss are able to keep off even more. It seems many of them have many things that they do that seem to help. Below I have summarized 2 of the studies that are actively looking at weight loss maintenance.
NWCR- The National Weight Control Registry
This is an ongoing study of people who have been able to lose a lot of weight. The average person (there are over 3200 members) have maintained an average of 30kg or 66 pounds of weight loss for over 5 1/2 years. Over 15% have kept off their weight for over 10 years.
A few key messages from this study:
- The participants’ average 60-90 min of activity per day which is usually spent walking.
- They frequently self monitor.
- Daily self weighing
- Daily food records
- Keep track of either calories or fat grams.
- 78% of them eat breakfast every day.
The Look Ahead Study-
This is a lifestyle modification study that is currently ongoing and plans to run for 11 and a half years and keeps publishing results along the way. It is made up of over 5000 people in 16 centers around the country who are overweight and have type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. It is also a randomized study with 1 group getting intensive counseling and dietary changes and the other group minimal dietary interventions. The participants’ averaged 58 years old when starting the study, roughly 60% of them are women, 37% minorities, 14% are on insulin, and their baseline weight is about 220 pounds or 100 kilograms.
The study group has a lot of face-to-face contact which works out to be weekly for 6 months, every 3 weeks for the next 6 months, twice a month for the next 3 years and then a minimum of 3 times a year for the rest of the study. Their diets are somewhere between 1200-1800 calories and they likely use meal replacements for at least the first 4 months. Exercise is recommended at 175 minutes per week in 5 workouts, which works out to be 35 minutes per day. At 1 year the study group had lost 8.6% of their initial weight while the control group had lost just 0.7%. Interestingly, the older study participants lost more weight with an average of 9.4% weight loss from their initial weight.
3 factors correlated with their success in weight loss:
- Exercise average of at least 137 minutes per week
- Attendance at meetings with their provider of an average 35 sessions per year
- Average meal replacement use of 361 times per year