As a person who thinks, writes and talks a great deal about weight management, its obviously something that I care deeply about. It would even be fair to say that this subject does, to some degree, define who I am. Fortunately, I found out today that I’m not crazy.
Well at least not according to some new research from the Miriam Hospital’s National Weight Control Registry which I received word of today. If you don’t know about the NWCR, its worth a quick look at their website. It’s the only research institution of which I am aware that focuses on the maintenance of significant weight loss.
And at this point, I should explain that I have been a member of the registry since May of 2003. To qualify, a person has to lose at least 30 pounds and keep it off at least one year. Once I had heard about the group, I really wanted to participate, because I had had enough of LOSING weight and was eager to be involved in the science of keeping it off.
Today’s notice had a couple of great tidbits in it. First off, most people in the registry had participated in a university-based weight loss program, so this new research was about “the rest of us” – those who either lost weight by themselves or through a program of some kind.
Of this non-university group, those who did weight loss on their own felt more in control of their eating, were more active, and had less experience with “yo-yo” dieting, than those in a program. The conclusion was theat “perhaps people who use programs are the ones who find weight loss and maintenance most difficult.” (Hello! That would be me!)
But my favorite part of this non-university group study was called “Psychological Characteristics of Successful Weight Losers.” The research noted that some people claim that long-term weight loss requires “extreme effort” and exacts a “tremendous psychological cost.” In fact, based on psychological questionnaires returned by almost 500 registry members, these weight losers showed the same level of “depressive symptoms, general distress, and susceptibility to losing control of eating” as the rest of the population.
The researchers concluded that weight management is not a “psychological hardship” and that these losers felt “little tendency” to overeat and had lower perceived levels of hunger.
So yes, I work on this issue every day, it consumes a lot of my time, and affects my interaction with society around me. That makes it extra nice to have a bunch of doctors explain that you don’t have to be nuts to lose weight. Try telling ‘em THAT at your office Christmas party.