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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.3-5 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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