This Study Shows How To Lose A Lot Of Weight—And Keep It Off

If you want to know the secret of successful weight loss and management, take a look at the results from The National Weight Control Registry in the US. The participants in the study lost an average of 30kg each and kept it off for five-and-a-half years. Here's how they did it.

The National Weight Control Registry is a database of about 4000 people who maintained at least a 13kg weight loss for at least one year.

Although the there were variations in how quickly they lost weight and how much, there are four things NWCR members have in common:

  • 90 per cent of them say they exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
  • 78 per cent eat breakfast every day.
  • 75 per cent weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62 per cent watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.

These may seem like obvious common sense essentials for weight loss, but they're still important findings. The fact that 89 per cent of the participants used a combination of both diet and exercise reinforces the importance of both.

The dedication to a significant and extensive amount of daily exercise is also notable. 28 per cent of participants used only walking as their exercise. The researchers also put pedometers on a sample of the participants and found they walked about 8.8km to 9.6km a day — far beyond the minimal guidelines.

Frequent weighing is also interesting, since some people think weighing too often is counter-productive when trying to lose weight. Weighing yourself at least weekly could be an "early warning system" to keep you on track for the long term.

The National Weight Control Registry [The Permanente Journal]

Photo by Sarah Sphar


    I'm not sure how TV watching is relevant to fitness. They could just as well be sitting in one place reading or playing video games or browsing the internet for much longer.

      It is an indicator of how little they partake of a very common activity for the rest of the world. Stop not picking the details and see the forrest.

      It could be correlation, it could be causation. Whether you think it is relevant or not doesn't really matter. It would seem the data supports effective weight-loss in those people who watch less than 10 hours per week.

    Interesting insights. Could be summarised as "don't diet, but make a permanent lifestyle choice for health".

    Another way of looking at this is that 20% managed to loose weight and keep it off while skipping breakfast. Those 20% of people may be evidence that breakfast is not really that important.

    We really need to be able to compare these percentages to the general population and those that failed to maintain weight loss. For all we know the percentages may be the same in the other groups.

      Or instead of attempting to find holes in research that aren't there, you could adopt these practices and reap the rewards.

      What are you waiting for, a study that shows you can skip breakfast, watch hours of TV and not exercise and still lose weight? Keep waiting!!

        I just found it very suprising that a full 1 in 5 are successful at losing the weight despite going against one of the mainsteam rules of weight loss

        There are plently of studies for and against eating breakfast. The idea that the metabolism goes into "starvation mode" has been disproven by various intermittent fasting studies. Other studies show that skipping breakfast makes you more likely to eat unhealthy food later in the day, but even that suggests that skipping breakfast itself is not really doing the damage but rather the later choices.

        Also attempting to find holes in theories and research is what science is, there is nothing wrong with questioning things. If I believed the results of every study I read at face value I would be changing my views on a weekly basis.

        These results are interesting but are hardly solid research, the results we have been given are undoubtedly suffering from a huge selection bias and have not been weighted. These results really need to weighted and compared to the group of people that failed to be meaningful.

          Lynxwildcat doesn't seem to actually understand the whole core concept of doing research to begin with. Finding hole/inconsistencies in each new piece of research is arguably the most important thing in any study, it's what keeps further research alive, when you see all those scientists saying 'we found this unexpected result, but that's GREAT because now we have all these new questions and avenues for research' they actually do mean it. No really.

    If you must watch tv, do it at the gym on a gerbilmill..?

    Really excercise isn't even necessary to lose weight, learn to count calories and go on a deficit (google it) it's not hard. Add lifting weights / cardio if you want (moreso weight training as cardio is unecessary, althought it has it's positives in regards to cardiovascular fitness)

      It isn't just about losing weight, it is about keeping it off. Those people that regularly exercise tend to keep the weight off. I could theorise about why that is, but that isn't relevant to the data in the report.

    Paul, I had to drop to under 600 calories a day to lose weight with no exercise beyond a 3km round trip walk to work, generally keeping it around 400. It's silly to say it's not hard, when it's not only hard but unhealthy for some people to do it through eating control alone.

      Barb - The essence and idea of counting calories isn't hard that is what I was referencing, of course it's hard it takes will power and focus to stay on a calorie deficit. As long as your eating clean (avoiding fast foods / snacks and getting your serving of protein / vegies / fats i.e hitting your macros correctly) you can be in a 750+ calorie deficit and be healthy. I'm not going to deny it, the only reason they say to do exercise is that a) It is good for you but b) It's only to create an extra calorie deifict

        Disagreed, Paul. And around 400 calories a day is FAAAAR more than a 750+ calorie deficit, try closer to twice that. You just can' pack enough nutrients into 400-600 calories. I'd eat a tin of tuna, one small single serve of beans, and then a second tin of tuna or a half piece of chicken with plain salad and balsamic vinegar for dinner. I can't have any animal emission type products (dairy, egg) without getting allergic reactions, so those are OUT. It's veg, fish and tuna for me. I started getting sick ALL the time due to no immune system due to relying on a multi-vitamin for nutrition. I stopped that foolishness, went back to 1200 calories a day, and now don't lose an ounce, but don't get sick at the drop of a hat anymore. Yes, 1200 calories a day is MAINTENANCE for me. And I do not own a car, and I walk everywhere I need to go. Some people are just unlucky.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now