Research on Long-Term Successful Weight Loss Maintenance

I recently ran across a study that’s tracked how over 10,000 people have been able to lose weight, and KEEP it off, since 1994.

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) began in 1994, initiated by Dr. James O. Hill, Ph.D., from the University of Colorado, and Rena Wing, Ph.D., from Brown Medical School.

The NWCR is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance ever to have been conducted.

There is a LOT we can learn from this research.

To start, I thought this list of effective behaviors and strategies these people have adopted was really interesting and useful:

1 – 98% of registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way.

Changing your diet is the #1 key to losing weight and keeping it off.

2 – 94% increased their physical activity.

You also have to burn more calories to lose weight.

3 – 90% exercise, on average, for about 1 hour per day.

This was a little surprising! One hour per day is not a crazy amount of exercise, but it’s not a small amount either. The most common form of activity was walking – so it doens’t have to be intensive necessarily – it just needs to be consistent.

4 – 78% eat breakfast every day.

Eating moderately and normally seems to be an indicator of long-term success. Things like IF CAN work for some, but for the majority, it seems that a more normal eating schedule is better.

5 – 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.

I’ve talked about this for years – you have to stay on top of things and know where you’re at if you want to keep in check. If the weight creeps up a bit, you’re right there to correct course and get back going in the right direction.

6 – 62% watch less than 10 hours of television per week.

I think this speaks to choice of recreational activities – doing things that are more active for fun also promotes a long-term healthy weight.


Simple, but POWERFUL, take-aways from this research.

If you are trying to lose weight and keep it off, think about each of these points, how you’re doing on each, and where you might be able to improve.

The final piece of the puzzle is social support. The vast majority of participants have NOT done it on their own; rather, they’ve relied on a support system of others who have done what they are trying to accomplish.

Whether this is a trainer, a coach, a mentor – having people in your corner to support you on your journey is another essential to success.

If you’re ready for help, we are in your corner at FVT. Contact us HERE to contact us and see if we could be a fit to help you reach your goals.

And here’s to your continued success! –

– Forest and the FVT Team

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