Lost Weight Often Stays Lost
> 6/7/2007 1:04:51 PM

The CDC website 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, a new study by Dr. E.C. Weiss for the CDC in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine offers some hope that while Americans may not be losing as much weight as they should, they are often able to maintain their hard-won progress.

1,310 adults who had lost significant weight the previous year were interviewed to discover the permanency of the loss. Even though previous studies in the AJPM showed that less than one fourth of adults use the diet and workout 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 needs to be done to see whether initial weight loss or maintenance is the greater problem.

So, what have we learned? Take heart, all of you dieters, that your hard work will have a lasting impact on your health. You won't have to throw out those new pants you triumphantly bought.

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