Context: Although the rise in overweight and obesity in the United States is well documented, long-term weight loss maintenance (LTWLM) has been minimally explored.
Objective: The aim of this study is to estimate the prevalence and correlates of LTWLM among US adults.
Design, setting and participants: We examined weight data from 14 306 participants (age 20-84 years) in the 1999-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We defined LTWLM as weight loss maintained for at least 1 year. We excluded individuals who were not overweight or obese at their maximum weight.
Results: Among US adults who had ever been overweight or obese, 36.6, 17.3, 8.5 and 4.4% reported LTWLM of at least 5, 10, 15 and 20%, respectively. Among the 17.3% of individuals who reported an LTWLM of at least 10%, the average and median weight loss maintained was 19.1 kg (42.1 pounds) and 15.5 kg (34.1 pounds), respectively. LTWLM of at least 10% was higher among adults of ages 75-84 years (vs ages 20-34, adjusted odds ratio (OR): 1.5; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2, 1.8), among those who were non-Hispanic white (vs Hispanic, adjusted OR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.3, 2.0) and among those who were female (vs male, adjusted OR: 1.2; 95% CI: 1.1, 1.3).
Conclusions: More than one out of every six US adults who has ever been overweight or obese has accomplished LTWLM of at least 10%. This rate is significantly higher than those reported in clinical trials and many other observational studies, suggesting that US adults may be more successful at sustaining weight loss than previously thought.