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Most Dieters Succeed Without Help

January 20, 2009

A new survey by Consumer Reports finds that most successful dieters lose weight on their own, without the help of diet pills or commercial diets.

The survey, which involved 21,632 Consumer Reports subscribers, asked participants about their lifetime weight history and their eating, exercise and dieting habits.

The “always thin” group, who had never been overweight, comprised 16 percent of the sample, while “successful losers”, those who weighed at least 10 percent less than they did at their heaviest and had been at that lower weight for at least 3 years, made up an 15 percent. 

“Failed dieters”, which included those said they’d like to slim down yet still weighed at or near their lifetime high, comprised the largest percentage of the group, at 42 percent. The remaining participants, or 27 percent, didn’t fit any of the categories.

Among the “always thin” group, just 3 percent reported having never exercised while eating whatever they wanted.  In fact, the eating and exercise habits of the vast majority of the “always thin” group equaled those of “successful losers,” a finding that contradicts the notion that those who are able to stay slim have a genetic advantage.

Both the “always thin” and the “successful losers” reported consuming healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and shying away from excessive fatty foods.  They also used portion control and regularly engaged in vigorous exercise. 

The only advantage seen in the “always thin” over the “successful dieters” was that those habits seem to come a bit more naturally to them, the survey found.

“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,” wrote Dr. Suzanne Phelan of the California Polytechnic State University and co-investigator of the National Weight Control Registry, in a Consumer Reports press release about the survey.

The Registry tracks those who have successfully maintained a weight loss over time.

According to Consumer Reports, more than 50 percent of “successful losers” reported losing weight themselves, without the help of medical treatment, commercial diet program, a book, or diet pills.

The finding supports an earlier survey by the magazine, in which 83 percent of “super losers”, those who had lost at least 10 percent of their starting weight and maintained the loss for 5 years or longer, had do some entirely on their own.

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