The National Weight Control Registry

Are you a candidate for The National Weight Control Registry?

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is a research study funded by the National Institutes of Health. It was developed to identify and investigate the common characteristics of people who successfully lose weight and keep it off.

The project was started in 1994 and today it has over 5,000 participants. Members are comprised of men and women over age 18 who have dropped at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a year of more. The average member has lost 70 pounds and maintained the loss for about five years. Many members have had a long history of being overweight.

Stop Thinking of It as a Diet

According to published research on the group, the successful participants exhibit many common behaviors. They eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet and have breakfast almost everyday. They have a high level of physical activity, exercising for almost one hour everyday. They find a way to embrace walking for exercise, stress control, mood enhancement, and better sleep. Almost everyone incorporated a meditative element, such as yoga, into his or her life.

Half of the members lost weight through a program like Weight Watchers and the others lost weight on their own. They tend to weigh themselves regularly and they don't "cheat".

A Deliberate Lifestyle Change

Nearly 77 percent of participants say that an event triggered their successful weight loss. One study found that many members actually separated from their old environment and changed in deep ways.

Many members say that it is easier to maintain a steady goal weight than it was to lose it. Nearly everyone says that weight loss has led to more energy and confidence, and better mobility and overall health.

The National Weight Control Registry continues to look for adults age 18 and over who have lost at least 30 pounds and have maintained that loss or more for at least one year. Enrollees are periodically asked to complete questionnaires about their success at losing weight, weight maintenance strategies and other health-related behaviors. Membership in the registry is free.


  • The National Weight Control Registry
  • KleinML, Wing RR, McGuire MT, Seagle HM, Hill JO A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 66:239-46.
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