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Editor's Correspondence
November 14, 2005

Prevalence of Successful Weight Loss

Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(20):2430. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.20.2430-a

The study by Moore and colleagues1 examining weight loss and risk of hypertension in overweight adults also provided important information about the prevalence of successful weight loss maintenance in a large US cohort. Although evidence from clinical weight loss studies suggests that few individuals succeed at maintaining their weight losses over time,2 few community-based studies have examined this contention. Available population research suggests that the prevalence of long-term successful weight loss is between 5.9% and 20%, depending on the specific population studied and criteria used to define successful weight loss.35 Based on the data reported by Moore et al,1 we calculated the prevalence of losing more than 1.8 kg over 4 years and keeping it off over the next 4 years. Of the 924 disease-free overweight and obese participants aged 30 to 49 years, 267 (29.0%) lost more than 1.8 kg over 4 years. Of these, the majority (n = 153; 57.3%) were able to subsequently sustain more than 1.8-kg weight loss over the next 4 years. Similarly among those aged 50 to 65 years, 268 lost more than 1.8 kg, and, of those, 158 (59%) sustained at least a 1.8-kg weight loss over the next 4 years. Although these data were collected in the 1950s, they suggest that the prevalence of successful weight loss may be higher (ie, 57.3%) than commonly believed. Future studies are needed to examine the prevalence of long-term successful weight loss in more recent cohorts.

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