People Who Lose It And Keep It Off


In 1994 Rena Wing, Ph.D. from Brown Medical School, and James O. Hill, Ph.D.from the University of Colorado put together what has become the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. This study is called the National Weight Control Registry. Believing that few individuals succeed at long-term weight loss, Drs Wing and Hill developed the NWCR to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss. They are currently tracking over 5,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods of time, and they use  detailed questionnaires and annual follow-up surveys  to examine the behavioral and psychological characteristics of weight maintainers, as well as the strategies they use to maintaining their weight losses.

While the registry is not a weight loss treatment program, they do provide useful insights into the habits and backgrounds of people who have successfully kept the weight off. Some of the interesting highlights of their research include:


  • 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
  • 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
  • There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.
  • 78% eat breakfast every day.
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

You can see more information about the registry and read personal experiences at


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