Lost Weight Often Stays Lost
> 5/23/2008 12:46:00 PM


The website of the Centers for Disease Control introduces the issue of obesity with some sobering statistics: the prevalence of obesity in American adults increased from 15% to 32.9% in the three decades before the 2003 NHANES survey. Despite this grim news, recent studies offer some hope that, while Americans aren’t losing as much weight as they should, they may be able to maintain their hard-won successes.

1,310 adults who had lost significant weight the previous year were interviewed to determine the permanence of the loss. Even though previous studies showed that less than 1/4 of adults used the food and exercise regimen recommended in the 2005 U.S. Health dietary guidelines, these interviews found that almost 60% of participants managed to maintain their weight loss. For the purposes of this study, maintenance meant that only 5% of the pounds returned. Losing 20 pounds and then gaining 1 back the next year is far from the precipitous backslide that diet critics claim is inevitable. It is true, though, that the more weight participants lost, the more likely they were to gain it back. This may be because some of the most drastic slimmers made large changes to their lifestyle that they could not reasonably hope to sustain in the long-run.

There is one additional finding of some interest in the study: Mexican-Americans were more likely to regain weight than the average American. It has been reported previously that Mexican-Americans suffer higher rates of obesity, but this finding points to one specific area that might be contributing to the difference. More research must be done to determine whether initial weight loss or maintenance is the greater problem.

So take heart, dieters, in knowing that your hard work will most likely have a lasting impact on your health. You might not have to throw out those new pants after all.

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