Context Overweight and obesity are increasing in the United States. Changes
in diet and physical activity are important for weight control.
Objectives To examine the prevalence of attempting to lose or to maintain weight
and to describe weight control strategies among US adults.
Design The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a random-digit telephone
survey conducted in 1996 by state health departments.
Setting The 49 states (and the District of Columbia) that participated in the
Participants Adults aged 18 years and older (N=107,804).
Main Outcome Measures Reported current weights and goal weights, prevalence of weight loss
or maintenance attempts, and strategies used to control weight (eating fewer
calories, eating less fat, or using physical activity) by population subgroup.
Results The prevalence of attempting to lose and maintain weight was 28.8% and
35.1% among men and 43.6% and 34.4% among women, respectively. Among those
attempting to lose weight, a common strategy was to consume less fat but not
fewer calories (34.9% of men and 40.0% of women); only 21.5% of men and 19.4%
of women reported using the recommended combination of eating fewer calories
and engaging in at least 150 minutes of leisure-time physical activity per
week. Among men trying to lose weight, the median weight was 90.4 kg with
a goal weight of 81.4 kg. Among women, the median weight was 70.3 kg with
a goal weight of 59.0 kg.
Conclusions Weight loss and weight maintenance are common concerns for US men and
women. Most persons trying to lose weight are not using the recommended combination
of reducing calorie intake and engaging in leisure-time physical activity
150 minutes or more per week.