Most successful dieters lose weight on their own

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - To shed excess pounds, forget expensive commercial diets or diet pills; most successful dieters lose weight on their own, largely by eating right and exercising regularly, according to a survey by Consumer Reports.

Their specific successful do-it-yourself weight loss tactics are unveiled at

A total of 21,632 subscribers to Consumer Reports were asked recently about their lifetime weight history and their eating, dieting and exercise habits.

The “always thin” group - those who had never been overweight — made up 16 percent of the sample, while “successful losers” made up an additional 15 percent. Successful losers were defined as people who, at the time of the survey, weighed at least 10 percent less than they did at their heaviest, and had been at that lower weight for at least 3 years.

“Failed dieters” - those would said they’d like to slim down yet still weighed at or near their lifetime high — made up the largest group at 42 percent. The remaining 27 percent of respondents, such as people who had lost weight more recently, didn’t fit into any of the categories.

Among the “always thin” group, only 3 percent said that they never exercised and that they ate whatever they wanted. In fact, the eating and exercise habits of the vast majority of the “always thin” group mirrored the eating and exercise habits of the “successful losers,” a finding that downplays the idea that people who are able to stay fit and trim have a genetic edge.

Both the “always thin” and the “successful losers” say they regularly eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and stay away from excessive dietary fat. They also practice portion control and engage in regular vigorous exercise.

The only advantage the “always thin” have over the “successful dieters” is that those habits seem to come a bit more naturally to them, according to Consumer Reports.

“When we’ve compared people maintaining a weight loss with (those) who’ve always had a normal weight, we’ve found that both groups are working hard at it; the maintainers are just working a little harder,” Dr. Suzanne Phelan of the California Polytechnic State University and co-investigator of the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks people who have successfully maintained a weight loss over time, noted in a Consumer Reports press statement.

According to the magazine, more than half of “successful losers” reported shedding the weight themselves, without the help of commercial diet program, a medical treatment, a book, or diet pills. This finding confirms a prior diet survey by Consumer Reports, in which 83 percent of “super losers” — people who’d lost at least 10 percent of their starting weight and kept it off for 5 years or longer — had done it entirely on their own.


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