Amy Shults RDN, CDN, CDE
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Diabetes Educator

What We Can Learn from The National Weight Control Registry

March 12, 2019

Want to lose weight and keep it off? There are so many ways to lose weight, and it can be overwhelming to pick a plan that’s going to be successful. It would be great if we knew what truly worked for other people, right? Enter the National Weight Control Registry.


The National Weight Control Registry was founded in 1994 as a way to assess if people who lost weight were able to keep it off and what they’re doing to make this happen. Instead of being told how to lose weight, or partaking in a research study designed for weight loss, the registry members lost weight in a real world setting. The only requirements to join the registry were to lose at least 30 pounds and keep it off for at least a year.


So what are these people doing? What do they have in common? Let’s take a look:


They Changed Their Diet


It’s not exactly surprising that to lose weight some diet changes are necessary.  A whopping 98% of the participants said they modified their diet in some way to lose weight. I must admit that I’m very curious about the remaining 2%! My guess is that they’re doing a whole lot of exercise.


Studies that have looked at the registry report that most participants follow a low calorie, low fat diet. I don’t find this surprising, but do find it interesting that currently high fat diets are popular. Everyone has heard of someone losing a ton of weight on a keto diet, right?? To be fair, the registry emerged during a time where low fat diets were popular, and I haven’t come across any more recent studies looking at registry members’ diets and the macronutrient composition. It would be interesting to see if a large number of people are really losing weight on a keto diet and keeping it off. I guess time will tell!


They Increased Their Exercise


Most participants, 94% to be exact, increased their exercise. And get this, they exercise for about an average of 60 minutes a day. That’s a lot of exercise!


General recommendations for overall health encourage moderate intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes a week. However, for weight loss and weight maintenance after weight loss upwards of 300 minutes or more per week is commonly recommended. After doing the quick math, it looks at though most registry members are doing well above this at about 420 minutes per week!


They Eat Breakfast


Seventy-eight percent of registry members eat breakfast daily. I guess it really is the most important meal of the day!


They Weigh Themselves


How often you should weigh yourself is always a topic of hot debate. Three quarters of participants weighed themselves at least once a week. A 2007 study looked at registry participants over a year and saw that participants that decreased their frequency of stepping on the scale gained more weight when compared to participants that kept their weight monitoring the same or increased the frequency.


Have you lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least a year? Consider joining The National Weight Control Registry! Click here to learn how to join.


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Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It should not be a substitute for individual advice from a health care professional. Talk with your physician, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and/or Certified Diabetes Educator about what is best for you and your health.

AMS Nutrition Counseling PLLC

64 Davison Court

Lockport, NY 14094

Phone: (716) 266-6056

Fax: (716) 332-6412

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