Dec. 29 There's realistic hope for weight loss

December 29, 2003|by Christine L. Moats

There are many options for anyone who desires to lose weight - pick a diet, take a pill, exercise or undergo surgery. With all the attention given to weight control and the claims that "this" is the best solution, which is the bigger problem: weight loss or the multiple options?

According to Tim Higgins, clinical manager of Nutrition Services at Washington County Hospital, there are data sources from researchers, clearinghouses and weight registries that are tempering the "one-way approach works" diet climate.

At a recent annual American Heart Association meeting, researchers from Tufts University reported findings of a comparison of four well-known diets - Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers and Zone. The research concluded that all were safe, but that no one diet was significantly better than the others. The yearlong study resulted in weight loss on average of 2 to 3 percent or four to six pounds for a 200-pound person. Between one-third and one-half of the group stayed on their diets for the year and achieved better results of 4 to 6 percent weight loss.


Other findings have been reported by the National Weight Control Registry, which includes successful weight losers - people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a minimum of one year. In the fall 2003 issue of Weight Management Newsletter, a publication of the American Dietetic Association, Anne M. Fletcher compared her notes taken from successful weight losers she surveyed with those in the National Weight Control Registry. Her findings, summarized below, challenge long held assumptions about weight loss:

1. Most people who maintain weight loss have relapsed multiple times before succeeding. Many have tried and failed five or more times.

2. Most maintainers were overweight as children and had at least one overweight parent. However, those who were overweight as children are not doomed to be overweight adults.

3. Diets work, but successful dieters had to find the approach that worked for them. Some used a nondiet approach; others restricted eating or used meal replacements.

4. The successful dieters did not feel deprived; rather they accepted that they could not revert to old eating patterns.

5. Two thirds of maintainers reported that it was easier to maintain weight than it was to lose weight.

6. Most maintainers weighed themselves on a weekly basis, with 38 percent stating they used a scale daily. Most of them also reported keeping their weight in a one- to five-pound range.

With all of the weight-loss hype and options available, take heed; there are sources of information about how successful weight losers did it. For more information, go to the National Weight Control Registry Web site at

Christine L. Moats is a wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital.

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