Defining Weight-Loss Success

Men and women have much in common when it comes to defining weight-loss success. Both talk about reaching self-determined weight goals and changing eating behaviors. They differ, however, in rating the importance of keeping the weight off as a defining criterion for success. According to Weight Watchers research, more women than men say that keeping the weight off is very important. Part of the reason may be that men have a tendency to be more successful than women in keeping the weight off. In a national survey conducted for Weight Watchers, significantly more women than men reported regaining weight in the two years after successfully losing weight.

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Why is it that in general men seem to be better than women at keeping the lost pounds from reappearing? Some researchers attribute guys' success to their initial motivation to lose weight:

health. Men are more likely than women to lose weight in response to a medical event, such as a diagnosis of high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A study that helps confirm this involved over 900 women and men from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR). The researchers divided subjects into three groups: those whose weight loss was triggered by medical events, those whose weight loss was triggered by a nonmedical event, and those who reported no triggers. The results revealed that the folks with medical triggers had a greater initial weight loss and gained less weight over two years of follow-up compared to those with nonmedical triggers and no triggers. Also interesting are the overall characteristics of the people in each group. Those with medical triggers tended to be older than those with nonmedical triggers and no triggers (fifty versus forty-four and forty-six years of age, respectively). In addition, in comparison with the other two groups, the participants with medical triggers tended to have the highest BMIs and were more likely to be male compared to those in the other groups. The researchers concluded that medical triggers seem to provide the subjects with lessons about the need to lose weight and may explain why some men have better results than women in terms of initial weight loss and long-term weight maintenance.


The bottom line in defining weight-loss success is that women and men basically use the same definition. Both agree that losing weight and keeping it off are important in defining that success. It's just that since some women seem to experience a little more difficulty than men in keeping the weight off, women often say that they place more importance on weight maintenance. The reality is that weight maintenance is important to both women and men.

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