Take it from 784 losers: you can become thinner. And you can stay thinner, too.
The 784 individuals are members of the National Weight Control Registry, an ongoing nationwide panel of individuals who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least one year.

Organized in 1995 by Rena Wing, Ph.D., and James Hill, Ph.D., the Registry maintains data both on individuals who have lost weight on their own or with the help of a formal weight-loss program.

Mary L. Klem, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, presented findings from the Registry to the 1996 annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity.

What Registry Members Reported
Dr. Klem’s presentation included the following findings, based on information supplied by Registry members:

71 percent of registrants had been overweight as a child; 25 percent had two obese parents; 73 percent had one or two overweight parents.
55 percent used a formal program to lose weight; 45 percent lost weight on their own.
89 percent modified both their eating and exercise patterns to lose weight.
88 percent continue to monitor their eating habits and to exercise regularly to maintain the weight loss.
Registrants lost an average of 66 pounds, maintaining at least a 30-pound loss for an average of 5 1/2 years.
Limiting the percentage of calories from fat was the most commonly used eating strategy, followed by eating a variety of foods and limiting portion sizes.
72 percent met or exceeded the American College of Sports Medicine’s minimum exercise guideline of 30 or more minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each day.
Walking and aerobic dance were their most popular activities.
To describe how their present, successful weight loss attempts differed from previous, unsuccessful attempts, registrants reported they presently had greater social or health reasons for losing and were more committed to making behavioral changes.

81 percent exercised more and 63 percent used a stricter dietary approach than they had used in earlier, unsuccessful attempts.

85 percent believed that the strategies they had used to lose weight would be effective for other people who wanted to lose weight.
Overall, registrants believed that successful weight maintenance had led to significant improvements in their interactions with other people, general health and well-being and self-confidence.