Tidbits from the NWCR

So you know I joined the NWCR last year.  “Joining” means you fill out pages and pages of questionnaires about food, exercise, psych stuff, etc.  I filled out the follow-up questionnaire earlier this year.  And apparently forgot to fill in one line.  These people are serious about the accuracy of their research.  Because they sent me  back the page and asked me to fill in the blank line:  “How many days a week do you put chocolate syrup in your milk?”  Um.  NONE.  So I filled in the blank and sent it back.  And they sent me a mimeographed page from their research findings as a thank you.  I think those people have a shoestring budget.  Still, they are serious about their research, and there is no larger data base of weight loss maintainers around, so we need to glean all we can from them.

We know most of the  basics:

To maintain their weight loss, members report engaging in high levels of physical activity (about 1 hour/day,) eating a low-calorie, low-fat diet, eating breakfast regularly, self-monitoring weight, and maintaining a consisten pattern across weekdays and weekends (interesting.)

Most of us have heard that very few people maintain weight loss.  That original perception came from a study done in 1959(!) and a pessimistic editorial was recently published in the  New England Journal of Medicine titled Losing Weight:  An Ill-Fated New Year’s Resolution.

In this paper, on “Long Term Weight Loss Maintenance,” the NWCR presents some data that as many as 20% of people have successfully lost weight and kept it off for one year.  Hmmph.  We all know one year is just the tip of the iceburg, right?  Still, 20% is a lot more hopeful than the 2-5% we usually see quoted.

Participants in the registry have lost an average of 72 pounds, and they have maintained the minimum weight loss of 30 pounds for an average of 5.7 years.  Wow!  But only 13% have maintained this minimum weight loss for 10 years.  Continued vigilance needed!

Remember when I wondered if continuing to try to lose weight was a strategy for maintaining weight loss?  Yep.  I think so.  “55% of registry members report that they are still trying to lose weight.”  

They say that most members report eating 1381 calories per day.  Then they say that most people underestimate their calories, so that is probably close to 1800 day.  I agree with that.

Registry members report consuming 2.5 meals per week in restaurants and .75 meals per week in fast food establishments.

Really?  This is one factoid from the NWCR that I will NOT be putting into practice LOL.

Nothing new–the members report exercising an hour a day, and most report brisk walking.  This is encouraging.  Even though it is a lot of time, everyone can walk.  And surprisingly, only 20% report weight lifting, and another 20% report cycling.  Really?  Get with the program, people!

Ah.  Interesting.  44% report weighing themselves DAILY, and 31% report weighing themselves weekly.  Okay.  I’ll continue with my twice a week regimen for now.  Gotta stay average.

Okay, here was the one sentence in the whole paper that was most interesting to me.

These findings suggest that successful weight loss maintainers continue to act like recently successful weight losers for many years after their weight loss.  (italics mine)

Bear with me.  There are a few more things worth mentioning, and I don’t want to write two posts on this.

Another predictor of successful weight loss maintenance was a lower level of dietary disinhibition (what???,) which is a measure of periodic loss of control of eating.  (oh.)

So, the less frequently you lose control of your eating, the more likely you are to be successful in maintaining weight loss.  Okay, noted.

Along with this, people were more successful if their eating was the same on weekends and holidays.  Oh brother, this is a hard one, right?  They make the statement that “allowing for flexibility in the diet may increase exposure to high-risk situations, creating more opportunity for loss of control.”

And finally, a bit of depressing (but its reality) news to end this review.  “Few people (11%) recovered from even minor lapses of 3-5 pounds regained.”  ay-yi-yi.  Don’t we all know it.      It seems like the biggest mystery in the world that someone can lose 100 pounds, and then for two years continue to ‘try’ and yet be unable to lose 5-10 pounds.

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16 thoughts on “Tidbits from the NWCR

  1. I like how you dissected the report, and I think you are spot on. Also? I’m going to incorporate the phrase “dietary disinhibition” into my daily lexicon, just because it sounds so dramatic. 😉

  2. I’m laughing at “mimeographed” – haven’t heard that word in AGES!! 🙂

    Dietary disinhibition sounds like something that happens when you drink the water in Mexico.

    • I KNOW. But there was no other way to describe the quality of the printout I got.

      LOL. I thought that phrase was funny too. Why do scientists have to make life so difficult for us commoners?

      • Ah, I can smell the ink from the mimeograph machine now!! Remember that smell? I always thought it smelled like pool water (I was 8, what can I say?).

  3. Maybe they wanted you to get more bang for your buck… dietary disinhibition sounds so much more sophisticated than “subject ate like it was a free for all several hours at a time.” See? Seriously though, this stuff all makes so much sense and you’d think we’d know it yet there are so few successful maintainers I’d say we don’t.

  4. Maybe they wanted you to get some value for all your hard work filling out the forms. “Dietary disinhibition” sounds so much fancier and formal than, “subject ate their brains out like it was a free for all for several hours.” See?

    Seriously, though all this information is great and makes so much sense. Yet there are so few people who are actually successful at maintenance I suppose there is a lot still to learn.

  5. “They say that most members report eating 1381 calories per day. Then they say that most people underestimate their calories, so that is probably close to 1800 day. I agree with that.”

    Interesting as the calorie book I am reading right now says almost the same thing, but they say that reported calories of average people (not losers) is 1800 and really is around 2200.

    And this “So, the less frequently you lose control of your eating, the more likely you are to be successful in maintaining weight loss. Okay, noted.”

    Yeah, kinda obvious, but it sucks to have to realize this. Seems like those of us who lose a lot really have to control any excess eating more than people who can seem to get away with more leeway.

  6. Very interesting! (I still haven’t joined the NWCR, but if I’m missing out on mimeographs about dietary disinhibition, maybe I need to sign on.)

    My method of keeping the weight off (more or less) has been to stop reading studies. Statistics drive me mad, especially when they say I can’t do something, statistically speaking. 🙂

    • Seriously, I think you are onto something there, Cammy. I notice that I am influenced more than I care to admit by whatever my current reading is.

  7. “So, the less frequently you lose control of your eating, the more likely you are to be successful in maintaining weight loss. ” ….. part of me says duh, part of me says this is the holy grail…so if I eat a burger and fries is that dietary disinhibition aka delicous but poor choice?

  8. ” I notice that I am influenced more than I care to admit by whatever my current reading is.”

    Had to laugh at that, cuz that’s why I stopped reading most recipe blogs now, or wt loss forums, or Facebook groups that focused either on recipes or whining why it was soooo haaarrrddd… LOL! I’m sticking with my favs… and you’re one of ’em. 🙂

  9. Great topic! I look forward to joining the NWCR next Febuary. Was the mimeograph purple? Those were the days. Lol.

    Somewhere I’ve read that the likelihood of long term weight maintenance increases for people between 2-5 years of keeping off the weight. Almost like a “survival” rate after a major disease. That’s what I tell myself. I’ve got a chronic ,life long disease that I must manage. Keeps it in perspective.

    • Yes, that is almost an exact quote from the NWCR. I was hoping that that would be true for me, but was disappointed after five years of maintenance that I was finding it more difficult than ever to maintain. I am doing a bit better now (6 years out.)

  10. This was very helpful. I began losing weight August 1st 2011, but if I’d known then what I know now I probably could not have done it. It’s just as hard now to lose the 5 lbs I gained back a year ago as it was to lose the original 85. I found a new word too: “homeostasis”, the tendency of the human body to maintain the same.basic conditions.

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