Brief reports| Volume 42, ISSUE 5, P481-485, May 2012

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Successful Weight Loss Among Obese U.S. Adults


      Little is known about weight control strategies associated with successful weight loss among obese U.S. adults in the general population.


      To identify strategies associated with losing at least 5% and 10% of body weight.


      Multivariable analysis of data from obese adult (BMI ≥30) participants in the 2001–2006 NHANES to identify strategies associated with losing ≥5% and ≥10% of body weight (conducted in 2009–2011).


      Of 4021 obese adults, 2523 (63%) reported trying to lose weight in the previous year. Among those attempting weight loss, 1026 (40%) lost ≥5% and 510 (20%) lost ≥10% weight. After adjustment for potential confounders, strategies associated with losing ≥5% weight included eating less fat (OR=1.41, 95% CI=1.14, 1.75); exercising more (OR=1.29, 95% CI=1.05, 1.60); and using prescription weight loss medications (OR=1.77, 95% CI=1.00, 3.13). Eating less fat (OR=1.37, 95% CI=1.04, 1.79); exercising more (OR=1.36, 95% CI=1.12, 1.65); and using prescription weight loss medications (OR=2.05, 95% CI=1.09, 3.86) were also associated with losing ≥10% weight, as was joining commercial weight loss programs (OR=1.72, 95% CI=1.00, 2.96). Adults eating diet products were less likely to achieve 10% weight loss (OR=0.48, 95% CI=0.31, 0.72). Liquid diets, nonprescription diet pills, and popular diets had no association with successful weight loss.


      A substantial proportion of obese U.S. adults who attempted to lose weight reported weight loss, at least in the short term. Obese adults were more likely to report achieving meaningful weight loss if they ate less fat, exercised more, used prescription weight loss medications, or participated in commercial weight loss programs.
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