Strategies identified for successful weight loss among Americans who are obese
Contrary to popular perception, a large proportion of obese Americans can and do lose weight, say researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. What's more, they say, the old tried and true methods of eating less fat and exercising are some of the most effective paths to weight loss success.
The research results appear in the April 10 online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
"This is great news because studies have shown that even a 5 percent reduction in weight can lead to improved health," says lead author Jacinda M. Nicklas, MD, MPH, MA, a clinical research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. "With more than a third of Americans now obese and fifty to seventy percent of them trying to lose weight, this is important because the health risks associated with carrying that extra weight are substantial."
Nicklas and colleagues analyzed data from more than 4,000 obese individuals culled from the 2001-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the health and nutritional status of adults in the United States.
Individuals included in the study were over 20 years of age with a body mass index of 30 or more 12 months prior to the interview.
Of those surveyed, 2,523 individuals reported trying to lose weight. Forty percent of these said they experienced weight loss of 5 percent or greater, and another 20 percent lost 10 percent or more.
"Those who exercised more and ate less fat were significantly more likely to lose weight," say the authors. "Additionally we found a correlation between joining weight loss programs and greater reported weight loss, which may speak to the importance of structure in a weight loss regimen" says Nicklas. And while those who used prescription weight loss medications also reported weight loss success, this represented only a small number of study participants.