How to maintain weight loss successfully: suggestions based on a 20-year national study

weight loss

Body weight is a key factor to protect us from chronic disease. Although obese people can lose weight through healthy diet, exercise programs, medicine, and surgery, more than 75% of them regain weight after losing it.

To learn more about maintaining weight loss, researchers founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) as a long-term study project in 1994. Currently, 10,000+ people have joined in the project.

Researchers gathered self-report data from those who are successfully maintain weight loss. The finding is published in The journal for Nurse Practitioners

The data showed that 90% of NWCR participants were still maintaining at least 10% weight loss 10 years after losing weight. These people had various ways to achieve that, but they also used some common strategies:

  • They eat a low-fat, low-calorie diet primarily prepared at home. On average, they consumed 1,306 calories per day, with only 24.3% from fat.
  • They have breakfast Studies have shown that regular breakfast is associated with low BMI.
  • They have diet rules for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. Their food intake is consistent from day to day.
  • They regularly drink low-calorie or no-calorie beverages, especially water. Only 10% of people drink sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • They exercise about 1 hour a day. About 75% of people expending at least 1000 calories per week in physical activity. Walking is the most common exercise they use.
  • They weigh themselves on a regular basis. Regular self-weighing may serve as an early alarm for weight regain.
  • They spend limited time in watching TV. Most of them watch TV fewer than 10 hours a week.
  • They sleep 7 or more hours a night. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours are more likely to be obese.

Although there is no “one size fits all” strategy for successful weight loss maintenance, these behaviors can be used as useful guideposts for making a personalized approach to maintain a healthy weight.

Citation: Raphaelidis L. (2016). Maintaining Weight Loss: Lessons from the National Weight Control Registry. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 12: 286-287. doi:
Figure legend: This image is for illustrative purposes only.