Objectives: To describe the dietary intakes of persons who successfully maintained weight loss and to determine if differences exist between those who lost weight on their own vs those who received assistance with weight loss (eg, participated in a commercial or self-help program or were seen individually by a dietitian). Intakes of selected nutrients were also compared with data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) and the 1989 Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).
Subjects: Subjects were 355 women and 83 men, aged 18 years or older, primarily white, who had maintained a weight loss of at least 13.6 kg for at least 1 year, and were the initial enrollees in the ongoing National Weight Control Registry. On average, the participants had lost 30 kg and maintained the weight loss for 5.1 years.
Methods: A cross-sectional study in which subjects in the registry completed demographic and weight history questionnaires as well as the Health Habits and History Questionnaire developed by Block et al. Subjects' dietary intake data were compared with that of similarly aged men and women in the NHANES III cohort and to the RDAs. Adequacy of the diet was assessed by comparing the intake of selected nutrients (iron; calcium; and vitamins C, A, and E) in subjects who lost weight on their own or with assistance.
Results: Successful maintainers of weight loss reported continued consumption of a low-energy and low-fat diet. Women in the registry reported eating an average of 1,306 kcal/day (24.3% of energy from fat); men reported consuming 1,685 kcal (23.5% of energy from fat). Subjects in the registry reported consuming less energy and a lower percentage of energy from fat than NHANES III subjects did. Subjects who lost weight on their own did not differ from those who lost weight with assistance in regards to energy intake, percent of energy from fat, or intake of selected nutrients (iron; calcium; and vitamins C, A, and E). In addition, subjects who lost weight on their own and those who lost weight with assistance met the RDAs for calcium and vitamins C, A, and E for persons aged 25 years or older.
Applications: Because continued consumption of a low-fat, low-energy diet may be necessary for long-term weight control, persons who have successfully lost weight should be encouraged to maintain such a diet.