We all know that losing weight is difficult and that keeping it off is even more challenging. We also know that there are a million-and-one theories about the best way to lose weight and how to maintain weight loss. Even more confusing is that many of these theories contradict one another.
But plenty of people do “beat the odds” and are successful with long term weight loss. So how do they do it? What is the key to their success? Do they have anything in common with each other? Wouldn’t it be great if we could answer these questions? What if we could take a survey of people who had successfully lost weight and kept it off? We could ask them about their diet, exercise pattern and daily habits. Then we could analyze the results to determine what these “success stories” had in common with each other. That way, weight loss wouldn’t be just a matter of trial and error, but one could follow the lead of those who have already found a path to success.
Well the good news is that such a survey exists. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a database of people who have successfully lost weight and kept it off. Anyone can join the NWCR who has successfully kept thirty pounds off for one year or more. Started in 1994 by two researchers from Brown University and the University of Colorado, the registry currently has over 10,000 members. Currently, registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for an average of 5 and1/2 years. Every year the NWCR sends out a detailed questionnaire to members that asks them about their diet, exercise, and daily habits. When this data is analyzed patterns begin to emerge that gives us clues about what works, and what does not.
So what are the findings of the NWCR? Individuals registered in the NWCR tend to:
(1) Eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet
(2) Eat breakfast every day
(3) Eat frequent meals and snacks
(4) Have a consistent pattern of eating that does not vary much from day to day
(5) Get an average of one hour of moderately intense exercise every day
(walking is the most common form of exercise)
(6) Watch fewer than 10 hours of television per week
(7) Weight themselves weekly
(8) Do not allow even a small weight gain to occur without taking corrective action
Those of you who are, or have been, patients at our Oregon medical weight loss clinic Health Plus know that these guidelines form the basis of our Portland weight loss program. At Health Plus, we have seen again and again that adherence to these principles results in success. It may not seem like rocket science that a healthy low-fat diet and regular exercise is what is what works for long term weight loss, but it is what the research supports, and what we have seen to be true at Health Plus.
If you meet the criteria for inclusion in the NWCR, we encourage you to join. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you will be helping others who are on the same journey you have been on. There is no cost to participate. To register, complete the form on line and NWCR will mail registration forms to you. They will confirm your eligibility after you mail back the completed paperwork, and then you will then be able to participate in the survey using their online system. For questions, contact Graham Thomas by email or call 1-800-606-NWCR (6927). Visit the NWCR website to learn more.