By Helaine Krasner, RDN

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know how difficult it can be, and maintaining weight loss can be even harder.  So what separates successful weight loss maintainers from the majority who regain most, if not all, of the weight lost and oftentimes gain even more? Fortunately this frustrating and fascinating topic has some research behind it. 

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a research group developed by physicians in 1994 to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who succeeded in long-term weight loss.  Ongoing analysis of over 10,000 people shows that 98% modified their diet and 94% increased physical activity. In addition, 90% exercise an average of 60 minutes daily, 78% eat breakfast daily, 75% weigh themselves at least weekly, and 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV weekly.  Although there isn’t one specific diet proven to be the best, most study participants report maintaining their weight loss by continuing to follow a low calorie, low fat diet and performing a high level of physical activity.

In a study comparing successful surgical and non-surgical weight loss maintainers, both groups regained a similar small amount of weight. Surgical patients reported less physical activity, more fast food and fat consumption, less dietary restraint, and also reported more depression and stress. Unrestrained eating was associated with weight regain in both groups.

The next time you feel frustrated with your weight loss struggle and are tempted by the latest diet or exercise craze that promises easy results, remember the facts.  Successful long-term weight loss is possible, but requires consistent behavior changes that are maintained over time and support a healthy lifestyle.

Top Tips:                                                              

  • Move more
  • Limit calories
  • Eat breakfast
  • Reduce screen time
  • Monitor your weight


NWCR Facts. The National Weight Control Registry. Brown Medical School/The Miriam Hospital. Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center. Accessed January 4 2018.

Bond DS, Phelan S, Leahey TM, Hill JO, Wing RR. (2009). Weight loss maintenance in successful weight losers: surgical vs non-surgical methods. International Journal of Obesity, 22, 173-180.

Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.