For the above predictable factors like exercise and control over eating play a role, but so do factors at home like fewer TVs, fewer high-fat foods, and more exercise equipment, says a new study.
"The home environment really came out as a stronger factor than we would have anticipated," said lead study author Suzanne Phelan, an assistant professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic State University.
For the study, Phelan and colleagues examined surveys of 167 people in different areas of the United States who had managed to lose 10 percent or more of their body weight and keep it off for five years or more.
Two other groups - one in Providence, R.I. and one in Philadelphia - were overweight or obese and had a history of dieting.
The researchers wanted to understand those who successfully had lost weight and "see what really set them apart from other obese people who haven't lost," Phelan said.
They found that the weight-losers were 3.95 times more likely than the heavier individuals in the Rhode Island group and 2.85 times more likely than those in the Philadelphia group to exercise.
Weight-losers were also 1.63 times more likely than that first group and 1.41 times more likely than the second group to engage in what the researchers called "dietary restraint."
The successful weight-losers also had fewer TVs, more exercise equipment and fewer high-fat foods in the home.
The findings appear in the October issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.