NWCR Study: Chances of Long Term (10 yr+) Weight Loss 1 in 30,000

Still think you gotta lose weight fast to be successful?  Doesn’t help your long term weight loss odds – and isn’t losing weight and KEEPING IT OFF why you’re dieting?

EET Fitness is obsessed with long term weight loss.  It’s all we care about, it’s all we do.

So it should come as no surprise that EET  has been scouring the internet for more details of the latest data about long term weight loss as presented by Dr. Graham Thomas at the 29th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Obesity Society, in Orlando, Florida, last week. ,  Dr. Thomas is a clinical researcher for the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) who is also a Research Fellow at the Brown Medical School.

Finding headlines about this research has been easy.  A quick google search produced these and many others:

Weight Loss Can Be Maintained            ABC News

Good news for dieters: It is possible to maintain weight loss‎   Chicago Sun Times

Analysis finds it is possible to maintain weight loss      USA Today

Those titles sound like like they contain the magic formula we’ve all been looking for.  Dang it, I thought EET was gonna be the solution — these guys already figured it out.  Obviously, I became intensely interested.

First a little background.  Per their website, the NWCR has been around 18 years and now is tracking over 10,000 registrants who have lost 30 lbs and kept it off for over a year.  The really intriguing part of this current study was the focus on registrants who had been on the NWCR for over 10 years.  10 years of maintenance is meaningful long term weight loss!

This number was pegged at 3133.

But the info presented so far raises for more questions than providing answers.  For example:

  • How many of the 3133 people replied to the research questionnaire?

  • They say weight loss maintenance was greater among men than women, but women account for 80% of the Registry (per the NWCR website Research page).  Again, it would be interesting to see the breakdown of replies and how many replied in total

The NWCR study draws the following conclusion:

Conclusions: Slow regain is typical for successful weight losers, but most continue to maintain a substantial weight loss of at least 10% of initial body weight even after 10 years.

This is an awfully strong conclusion to reach based on the info presented so far.  Sounds good for the media I suppose — EET needs to see a lot more to be convinced that is a fair conclusion.  However, the full research report has been far more difficult to find for analysis (see update on this below).

EET believes if you know the true odds on long term weight loss you’ll make much better choices on how to get there!

One VERY Reasonable Conclusion From This Study:  Long Term Weight Loss Success Rate is 1 in 30,000

Meanwhile, based on the factual data presented so far, the only conclusion EET is taking from the study so far is that we can now create an estimate of YOUR chances of losing 30 lbs (using the conventional dieting methods of the NWCR success stories) and keeping it off over 10 years.  Here’s the math:

3133 estimated # of people who have lost over 30 lbs and kept it off over 10 years DIVIDED BY  99,000,000 estimated obese people (2008 figure–est to grow by a LOT) =.00003 or .003%

in other words your chances of weight loss success as defined by the registry (30 lbs–could be FAR less than your goal weight) are

3 thousanths of 1%

or put another way

1 in 30,000

Yes we realize there could be many more people who have lost more than 30 lbs for 10 years who didn’t register, but there could also be more than 99,000,000 people who are obese (and in fact projections say there are).

In any case it should be compelling to any reasonable person that only 10,000 people in TOTAL have signed up for the registry in 18 years (vs 99,000,000 obese people)!  Sucess stories for long term weight loss are few and far between, that much is certain.

After 2 years of endless research and practice in helping people lose weight and improve their health and fitness,  EET believes you should rely on the 1 in 30,000 estimate. 

But hey, don’t take EET’s word for it — here is a quote directly from the abstract of the NCWR study:

Long-term maintenance of a substantial weight loss is presumed
to be highly challenging; some have even questioned whether it is

Ten-Year Weight Change in the National Weight Control Registry
(click for abstract)



We went over to the NWCR Site — they have a convenient RESEARCH FINDINGS TAB right on their Home Page

Research Findings

Check out our list of NWCR published studies Here!

31 entries, but nothing from 2011–probably haven’t had time to update yet.  Fair enough.

I then buzzed over to the Obesity Society’s Website.  Couldn’t find any mention of this long term weight loss study.

Finally, I actually contacted both Dr. Thomas and the Obesity Society directly.

Both were VERY responsive which was great!  Unfortunately, the details of the study won’t be released until it gets approved for publication and there is no set date for this.

EET has a lot of questions about this study which could prove very helpful to continuing to build our successful model for long term weight loss.  But we  now believe we have a realistic figure on your chances of success at long term weight loss using conventional dieting methods.

Studies like the NWCR can be very helpful, but only when not “spun” to make people believe “all they have to do” is follow advice that has a 1 in 30,000 success rate!  What else do you invest so much time and money in with the chances of success at 1 in 30,000? 

What other industry could get away with representing that a 1 in 30,000 success rate is success????

Fine.  Don’t listen to EET.  But what about the experts with fancy degrees and published in the New England Journal of Medicine who are speaking out about the failure of conventional weight loss methods– are you listening ?? read and here a LOT more from clinical research here (click to enlarge)

It’s the lack of awareness that short term weight loss is MEANINGLESS that is creating most of the WEIGHT GAIN!  If folks were allowed to start a diet knowing the odds against them they would surely alter their expectations and select plans that make far more sense in the long term.


3 thoughts on “NWCR Study: Chances of Long Term (10 yr+) Weight Loss 1 in 30,000

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