Weight regain in U.S. adults who experienced substantial weight loss

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Every so often, another study comes out depicting the average American as an incorrigible yo-yo dieter and committed couch potato; however, nearly six in 10 people maintained their weight loss to within 5 percent over a year's time in a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Weight maintenance following weight loss is doable,” said lead author Edward Weiss, a medical epidemiologist with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. “We're still learning the things that are necessary for weight maintenance in the long run.”

Unfortunately, those with more weight to lose were those more likely to regain, according to the study now appearing online and in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine .

The researchers analyzed data gleaned from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 1,310 adults ages 20 to 84 who had experienced “substantial” weight loss — 10 percent of their initial weight.

Only 7.6 percent of survey participants were still losing weight after one year, according to the authors. Another 33.5 percent regained weight.

Putting pounds back on was more common in those who lost a greater percentage of weight. “One possible explanation is that those who lost larger percentages of their maximum weight may have had to make greater lifestyle changes that are difficult to incorporate and sustain,” the researchers suggest.

“Mexican-Americans were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to regain weight,” said the researchers, who cautioned that that this result “has not been previously reported and should be confirmed.”

The finding did not surprise Dirk Schroeder, associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. “Food choices offered [in diet programs] are not what Hispanics eat,” said Schroeder, who co-founded a health information technology company serving the Hispanic population in 1999.

Hispanic dieters are more successful with a culturally attuned program that allows for larger meals midday and incorporates familiar food, Schroeder said. He added, “What we've found is a high desire to lose weight.”

American Journal of Preventive Medicine : Contact the editorial office at (858) 457-7292 or [email protected]

Weiss EC, et al. Weight regain in U.S. adults who experienced substantial weight loss, 1999-2002. Am J Prev Med 33(1), 2007.

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