People who are most successful in preventing weight gain, and dieters who lose weight and keep the pounds off, have made major changes in their diet and exercise routines, says a researcher as part of a new study.
Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and director of the Weight Control & Diabetes Research Center at The Miriam Hospital, will be using the results of this study to her case for big behavioural changes to stave off weight gain at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society.
"We live in an obesogenic environment that relies heavily on fast food, automobiles, and remote controls - all which can be labelled as 'toxic' to maintaining a healthy body weight. With our research, we want to determine the most successful strategies for maintaining a nor-mal weight in this toxic environment. We've found that bigger changes are needed for success," said Wing.
She founded the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR), the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance in the world, along with James Hill of the University of Colorado Denver. Their registered data has details on more than 5,000 men and women who have, on average, lost 70 pounds and kept the weight off for six years.
Wing and Hill will present alternative views of how to best address the obesity epidemic, at the symposium. The crisis is worldwide in scope; health experts call it "globesity," with more than 1 billion adults overweight and at least 300 million of them clinically obese.
Hill is going to argue that small daily changes, like using the stairs, are sufficient to prevent incremental weight gain that can lead to obesity. However, Wing will make the case that much larger life-style changes, like exercising 60 to 90 minutes a day, are needed to prevent weight regain.
"Our data from the National Weight Control Registry suggests strategies associated with suc-cessful weight maintenance include high levels of physical activity and conscious control of eat-ing habits. Dieters who remain diligent about diet and exercise are much less likely to gain weight back," said Wing.
Examples of conscious control include frequent weighing, following a consistent dietary regimen across the weekdays and weekends, and taking fast action if small weight gains are observed.
Wing will also present new research findings that support the notion that large behavior changes are necessary in maintaining a normal weight - even in those who may not have to overcome a genetic or physiological propensity toward obesity.
"There's no way around it. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to really change your lifestyle, particularly if you're overweight or have a family history of obesity. The obesity epidemic won't go away simply because people switch from whole to skim milk. They need to substantially cut their calories and boost their physical activity to get to a healthy weight - and keep minding the scale once they do," said Wing.