For the millions of Americans who struggle to lose weight and keep it off, there may be help. According to a report published by the American College of Sports Medicine in the March/April issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®, the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has identified methods that thousands of individuals have used to successfully maintain weight loss.

“By studying people who have succeeded in losing weight and keeping it off, we have identified many commonalities behind successful weight loss,” said James O. Hill, Ph.D., co-founder of the NWCR.

More than 6,000 people have joined the NWCR. Nearly all (89 percent) have combined diet and exercise to achieve their successful weight loss. Most participants, 98 percent, exercise at home, and several participants, 40 percent, exercise with a friend. Walking is the most popular form of exercise among NWCR participants.

“One of the most important predictors of continued weight maintenance is sustained high levels of physical activity,” said Dr. Hill, who is also the executive director of the Anschutz Health & Wellness Center, a new health promotion and disease prevention center scheduled to open in spring 2012 at the University of Colorado. “Successful weight loss maintenance depends on sustaining the healthy lifestyle behaviors for which NWCR members are most known.”

Individuals looking to maintain weight loss should follow these seven tips, suggested by the NWCR:

1. Be active. More than half (54 percent) of NWCR members expend more than 2,000 calories each week. This equals about 200 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.

2. Turn off the television. About 63 percent of NWCR members watch television for fewer than ten hours per week.

3. Enjoy a low-calorie, low-fat diet. The average NWCR member consumes 1,380 calories per day, and less than 30 percent of these calories come from fat.

4. Keep your diet consistent. Resisting the urge to “splurge” on holidays or weekends, NWCR members eat the same foods on a regular basis.

5. Eat breakfast. Most NWCR members (78 percent) eat breakfast each day. This helps curb hunger and overeating later in the day.

6. Show some restraint. NWCR members exert great control over their eating habits, and they rarely overeat.

7. Keep track of your progress. Weighing in at least once a day and keeping track of food intake is essential for most NWCR members.

The National Weight Control Registry was founded in 1994 by Dr. Hill and Rena Wing, Ph.D., to identify individuals who maintain substantial weight loss and to determine the strategies that help these individuals succeed. All of the study participants are 18 years or older and have maintained weight loss of at least 30 lbs. for more than one year.

For ACSM’s recommendations on long-term weight loss, view the 2009 “Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults” Position Stand.

American College of Sports Medicine
Anschutz Health and Wellness Center