Dietary Habits and Weight Maintenance Success in High Versus Low Exercisers in the National Weight Control Registry

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) was established to examine characteristics of successful weight loss maintainers. This study compares the diet and behavioral characteristics and weight regain trajectories of NWCR members with differing physical activity (PA) levels at baseline.


Participants (n = 3591) were divided into 4 levels of self-reported PA at registry entry (< 1000, 1000 to < 2250, 2250 to < 3500, and ≥ 3500 kcals/week). We compared self-reported energy intake (EI), macronutrient composition, eating behaviors (dietary restraint, hunger, and disinhibition), weight loss maintenance strategies, and 3 year weight regain between these 4 activity groups.


Those with the highest PA at registry entry had lost the most weight, and reported lower fat intake, more dietary restraint, and greater reliance on several specific dietary strategies to maintain weight loss. Those in the lowest PA category maintained weight loss despite low levels of PA and without greater reliance on dietary strategies. There were no differences in odds of weight regain at year 3 between PA groups.


These findings suggest that there is not a “one size fits all strategy” for successful weight loss maintenance and that weight loss maintenance may require the use of more strategies by some individuals than others.

Catenacci ( and Wyatt are with the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO. Odgen is with the Dept of Biostatistics and Informatics, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO. Phelan is with the Dept of Kinesiology, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA. Thomas and Wing are with the Dept of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI. Hill is with the Center for Human Nutrition, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO.