Study: Probability of Obese People Reaching ‘Normal’ Weight Less Than 1%

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Replies

  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    peter56765 wrote: »
    Disagree. The study is not a weight loss study. It's a demographic study. It's like tracking how many people who live in poverty are able to rise out of it.

    Well, more precisely it's like tracking how many such people DO rise out of it.
    As with weight loss, there are a variety of reasons as to why someone may or may not, but as with weight loss, it's not a good place to be and most people in that situation would prefer not to be there. This is not a "why" study, it's a demographic change/movement study. Don't read into it more than what it is saying.

    I mostly agree with this, but the problem is that the media reports and much of the discussion (and comments) here indicate that people are twisting it to be something it's not. I actually do think the evidence is that it's hard to maintain weight loss, in that a high percentage of people don't do it (although the actual stats of those who try and do are not known, just like we don't really know the stats for how many former abusers of drugs or alcohol got and remained clean). But it's not all that uncommon to lose weight sufficient to go from obese to normal weight--there are tons of examples on MFP.

    Demographically, yes, most obese people don't become normal weight, but what that means for someone actively working to lose weight is very little.

    That people stay in situations (like being obese) that all else equal they'd prefer not to be in doesn't mean that they are powerless to get out of it. Often it means they lack information needed to get out of it (or the kind of practical information that allows them to implement what they theoretically know). And probably even more often it means there are positives they are used to about their current situation that they are hesitant to change without more clear benefits -- here, the pleasures that they are used to, eating what they like and relaxing when not working, vs. a theoretical longterm pleasure of being thin, that they may think comes with lots of continual sacrifice. People make trade offs.

    I happen to think the trade offs to lose weight are worth it and not as difficult as people often think, but I can understand why others might not be at that point.

    Also, even living where I do (in a professional and social circle where obesity is less common than in the US as a whole), my impression is that while people who are overweight or obese might prefer not to, for the most part it's not that terrible for them, so many don't care all that much. I didn't care that much most of the time I was fat. I imagine this is even more so as you are in circles where most people are overweight, so it seems normal. (Which is likely a public policy problem.)
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    I was panicked by a study published in Time magazine in 1982. I predicted my future on other people's past statistics.

    Out of curiosity, the "you have a better chance of getting hit by lightening than being married over 35, if a woman" one?
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    Annie_01 wrote: »
    Soopatt wrote: »
    We can just look around the streets and see that weight loss is not easy, or, if you are in MFP, you can look at the new threads, posted daily by folks who are "back again and this time it is going to work". I have been here for four months and have found the drop off from my friends list alarming - so many people who were fired up and enthusiastic just a few months ago, disappearing without a trace, extra pounds still firmly in place.

    Do we really think there are tons of blissfully happy obese people out there who have never tried any attempt at weight loss? Chat to anyone on this site- anyone - and they will list the stupid diets and crazy attempts at weight loss they undertook at various stages in their lives before finding MFP (and then still not necessarily succeeding).


    Weight loss is tough and very few people succeed at it long term. If you were to do a follow up on the success photos threads on this site a year or two later you would find some grim statistics behind them, as grim as the stats of folks who don't keep off weight after Biggest Loser or any other big weight loss effort.

    We should not be afraid of those statistics because it does not speak to us as individuals. There are people who succeed and we should strive to be among them. There are people who keep it off for years and we can be among them too. There is no point in deluding ourselves however that succeeding is a foregone conclusion.

    I am doing my MBA because I want to be in the top 5% of business earners in this country. I am not put off by facing the fact that 95% of the population are not high earners and will never be.

    I was successful on my very first attempt.

    Your 25...hopefully you won't have to do this again. Most people believe that they will never have to do this again...yet many do have a 2nd time...a third...even a 4th time.

    But this study isn't really about sustaining weight loss. It's claiming -- or more correctly, those taking it out of context, like the media reports and those promoting weight loss surgery -- are claiming that people cannot even lose sufficient weight on their own to go from obesity to a normal weight, and that's clearly not true. Many of us on MFP have done that and didn't even find it terribly hard.

    (I am aware that maintaining over time can be hard. I did this before and regained -- although after 5 years of maintenance -- so am hoping I have learned but know that caring is the key. I stopped caring before, for lots of life reasons.)
  • Kalikel
    Kalikel Posts: 9,626 Member
    Well, it sucks for those who remain obese, but it doesn't mean I had to. I'll be in the normal range and I'll be there very soon. One stubborn pound away. That pound is holding on for dear life and doesn't want to leave, but it will. Hasta la vista, little pound and hasta la vista Overweight.

    Study can kiss my asp.
  • vivelajackie
    vivelajackie Posts: 321 Member
    My fiance actually did Weight Watchers, lost a bunch of weight, and then gained it all back. He said it was good to lose weight but in the end, Weight Watchers is a BUSINESS. It needs clientele. It doesn't teach you how to change your lifestyle in an enduring manner that keeps the weight off.

    It isn't that we are INCAPABLE of being a normal weight. You're capable if YOU WORK FOR IT. We just fall short many times in obtaining the tools we need to succeed. It's not just a fat person mentality. We are okay with mediocrity. I am down 100+ pounds and have no plans on stopping. It'll take time. It's already taken time. I don't choose mediocrity in myself though, and I'm in no rush to "see results now", which is what people get fixated on and that's why they fail.
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,533 Member
    edited July 2015
    Orphia wrote: »
    Kotuliak wrote: »
    WASHINGTON — Programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are designed to help overweight and obese people shed extra pounds with the help of a support system — but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that most obese people who don’t get some kind of weight loss surgery will never achieve a “normal” weight.
    The Centers for Disease Control classify a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 as “overweight,” anything above that as obese.
    Data for 76,704 obese men and 99,791 obese women from the United Kingdom were analyzed over the course of nine years, and researchers found that the annual probability of reaching a normal weight was just 1 in 210 for obese men and 1 in 124 for obese women (obese = 30.0–34.9 BMI).
    For those with morbid obesity (BMI = 40.0–44.9), those odds decreased to 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women.
    And, at least 50 percent of patients who managed to achieve a 5 percent weight loss were shown to have regained the weight within two years.
    “Our findings indicate that current nonsurgical obesity treatment strategies are failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients,” the study says.
    “…even when treatment is accessed, evidence suggests behavioral weight loss interventions focusing on caloric restriction and increased physical activity are unlikely to yield clinically significant reductions in body weight.”

    http://www.weightymatters.ca/2015/07/new-obesity-study-from-annals-of.html

    "If I looked at 279,000 men and women for a decade and studied whether or not they qualified for the Boston Marathon, but I didn't actually look to see if they were runners, and if they were runners I didn't bother exploring what their training plans and distances were like, but instead simply looked at how many people from that 279,000 qualified for Boston, I'm guessing I'd be left with an incredibly small number.

    "And yet, that's pretty much exactly what the latest depressing weight loss study did. They followed 279,000 men and women for ten years to see what was the probability of those with obesity losing back down to "normal" weight (a BMI less than 25). They didn't exclude people who weren't trying to lose weight or who might not have wanted to lose weight. They also didn't pay any attention to the means with which those who did lose weight only to regain it lost it in the first place."

    There is no way to measure "might not have wanted to". And there are already plenty of studies that look at the means - they all find the same thing - all the "means" suck, because success rates are very low no matter how the demographic pie is sliced.

    I don't take the headline number too seriously, but really it's not that far off of all the other studies looking at this. Does it really matter if the failure number is reported as 90% or 99%? Is there really a huge difference between 99% of everybody failing and 90% of people trying, failing?

    Not really.

    The harsh truth is that once you let yourself get fat, by far the most likely outcome, NO MATTER WHAT YOU TRY AND DO, is that you will stay fat. I don't like it, and yeah, it makes me an outlier, but I'm not going to make a mockery of logic by ignoring the mountain of evidence.
  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,533 Member
    What this study should be motivating us to do is figure out how to minimize obesity in pre-adults and young adults, instead of having us yelling at each other.
  • strong_curves
    strong_curves Posts: 2,229 Member
    Caitwn wrote: »
    I am getting really sick of seeing this study posted along with the comments about how discouraging it is.

    It's a perfectly legitimate study (not a "fail" or bad science). But the news reporting about it has been lousy (you weren't REALLY getting your health information from mainstream media though....right?), and many are either not reading the study or aren't understanding it.

    The study did NOT look at people who are TRYING to lose weight. It was a snapshot of the BMIs of people listed in electronic health records - that means everyone - even those who were not trying to lose weight. Are you really shocked that long-term weight loss "success" in that group isn't inspiring?

    It's a good study for making general policy decisions about health education and thinking about whether physicians need to be more aware of helping patients connect with good weight loss programs.

    It says very little about whether people like us can succeed in weight loss.

    Deciding that I am likely to fail based on this study is like looking at the lady across the street who's morbidly obese and isn't trying to lose weight because she thinks it's impossible due to genetics...and deciding that's evidence that I won't succeed.

    That's what I thought when I read the original post. This study isn't about the why people won't succeed and I think there needs to be a study about that.

  • PikaKnight
    PikaKnight Posts: 34,972 Member
    zaxx1953 wrote: »
    The probability of me going to whatever weight BMI states is desirable for me is probably 0 percent unless I get cancer, and thank god for it.

    Alphas gonna alpha and I don't want to be a hipster who weighs 20 lbs more than my GF.

    Just because you aren't willing to work at something, doesn't mean you should demean others who are and do.
  • PikaKnight
    PikaKnight Posts: 34,972 Member
    Caitwn wrote: »
    I am getting really sick of seeing this study posted along with the comments about how discouraging it is.

    It's a perfectly legitimate study (not a "fail" or bad science). But the news reporting about it has been lousy (you weren't REALLY getting your health information from mainstream media though....right?), and many are either not reading the study or aren't understanding it.

    The study did NOT look at people who are TRYING to lose weight. It was a snapshot of the BMIs of people listed in electronic health records - that means everyone - even those who were not trying to lose weight. Are you really shocked that long-term weight loss "success" in that group isn't inspiring?

    It's a good study for making general policy decisions about health education and thinking about whether physicians need to be more aware of helping patients connect with good weight loss programs.

    It says very little about whether people like us can succeed in weight loss.

    Deciding that I am likely to fail based on this study is like looking at the lady across the street who's morbidly obese and isn't trying to lose weight because she thinks it's impossible due to genetics...and deciding that's evidence that I won't succeed.

    AGREED

  • NikiChicken
    NikiChicken Posts: 576 Member
    Hmmm... I started morbidly obese with a BMI of 45.3. I am now at a BMI of 28.8, still overweight but getting closer. After 3 1/2 years, I am still losing and am now only 23 pounds from goal. I will beat the odds and get there - and stay there.

    I don't think this study is stupid or necessarily wrong. We see a lot of success stories here on MFP because that is what this site is designed for. People who want to lose weight and get fit come here and hang out. We see the success stories posted in the forums. However, we are a select few of the entire population and probably the exceptions to the statistics.

    I also don't think this study is saying that anyone who is determined and willing to put in the work required to go from morbidly obese to "normal" weight can't or won't do it. This study is just saying, when you look at all these people who are morbidly obese, you can expect only x number of them to get to a normal weight without intervention. We all know losing weight is hard. Anyone who has attempted to lose weight at any time in their life, whether it was 5 pounds or 500 knows that it is hard and the more you have to lose, the more daunting it becomes and the fewer people that are going to succeed over the long term. Does that mean that because statistics are not in your favor you shouldn't try or that it's impossible? Absolutely not! Take a look around here and you can find many, many examples of people succeeding against the odds. It's pretty inspiring to see these stories, actually and helps me keep logging day after day in the determination that I'll see that healthy weight *and maintain it* as well.
  • Lextmg86
    Lextmg86 Posts: 102 Member
    Willpower beats the results of a study like this any day.
  • DeguelloTex
    DeguelloTex Posts: 6,658 Member
    peter56765 wrote: »
    peter56765 wrote: »
    2wise4u wrote: »
    The OP depresses me a little but not enough to give up. Now I'm more determined than ever.
    Would it depress you to learn that the odds of being able to paint your house are low based on the fact that a lot of people who weren't even trying to paint their houses didn't succeed in painting their houses?

    Bad analogy. People don't paint their house for a variety of reasons: 1) it doesn't need it, 2) they have vinyl siding or stain or stucco or something else, 3) they are renting. In contrast, I'd say the vast majority of people who are overweight wish that they were not overweight. The study is trying to determine if people tend to turn that wish into reality. The answer is no. Weight loss appears to be one of those areas where most people need a helping hand.
    People don't try to lose weight for a variety of reasons, too. That's the core problem with this "study."

    What people "wish" is separate from what people do. If someone isn't trying to lose weight, no matter how much he wishes he weren't fat, that's not relevant information for people who are trying to lose weight. That someone was fat and stayed fat provides no useful information without context. If he wasn't trying to lose weight, lack of weight loss isn't a failure.
    This is not a "why" study, it's a demographic change/movement study. Don't read into it more than what it is saying.
    The problem is that the information is being presented as more than a demographic change study. If people, in the demographic sense, are staying fat, then they're staying fat. This type of data can show that. What it can't show is something like "most obese people who don’t get some kind of weight loss surgery will never achieve a 'normal' weight."

    I'm not reading that into how it's being presented. I'm quoting it.
  • stevencloser
    stevencloser Posts: 8,911 Member
    Mr_Knight wrote: »
    Orphia wrote: »
    Kotuliak wrote: »
    WASHINGTON — Programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are designed to help overweight and obese people shed extra pounds with the help of a support system — but a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that most obese people who don’t get some kind of weight loss surgery will never achieve a “normal” weight.
    The Centers for Disease Control classify a BMI of between 25 and 29.9 as “overweight,” anything above that as obese.
    Data for 76,704 obese men and 99,791 obese women from the United Kingdom were analyzed over the course of nine years, and researchers found that the annual probability of reaching a normal weight was just 1 in 210 for obese men and 1 in 124 for obese women (obese = 30.0–34.9 BMI).
    For those with morbid obesity (BMI = 40.0–44.9), those odds decreased to 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women.
    And, at least 50 percent of patients who managed to achieve a 5 percent weight loss were shown to have regained the weight within two years.
    “Our findings indicate that current nonsurgical obesity treatment strategies are failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients,” the study says.
    “…even when treatment is accessed, evidence suggests behavioral weight loss interventions focusing on caloric restriction and increased physical activity are unlikely to yield clinically significant reductions in body weight.”

    http://www.weightymatters.ca/2015/07/new-obesity-study-from-annals-of.html

    "If I looked at 279,000 men and women for a decade and studied whether or not they qualified for the Boston Marathon, but I didn't actually look to see if they were runners, and if they were runners I didn't bother exploring what their training plans and distances were like, but instead simply looked at how many people from that 279,000 qualified for Boston, I'm guessing I'd be left with an incredibly small number.

    "And yet, that's pretty much exactly what the latest depressing weight loss study did. They followed 279,000 men and women for ten years to see what was the probability of those with obesity losing back down to "normal" weight (a BMI less than 25). They didn't exclude people who weren't trying to lose weight or who might not have wanted to lose weight. They also didn't pay any attention to the means with which those who did lose weight only to regain it lost it in the first place."

    There is no way to measure "might not have wanted to". And there are already plenty of studies that look at the means - they all find the same thing - all the "means" suck, because success rates are very low no matter how the demographic pie is sliced.

    I don't take the headline number too seriously, but really it's not that far off of all the other studies looking at this. Does it really matter if the failure number is reported as 90% or 99%? Is there really a huge difference between 99% of everybody failing and 90% of people trying, failing?

    Not really.

    The harsh truth is that once you let yourself get fat, by far the most likely outcome, NO MATTER WHAT YOU TRY AND DO, is that you will stay fat. I don't like it, and yeah, it makes me an outlier, but I'm not going to make a mockery of logic by ignoring the mountain of evidence.

    The difference between 99% failing and 90% failing is ten times more people succeeding, that's a pretty big difference.
  • yarwell
    yarwell Posts: 10,479 Member
    The difference between 99% failing and 90% failing is ten times more people succeeding, that's a pretty big difference.

    Yes, it means you have to treat 10 people to get one success rather than 100. Quite important if "treat" means giving out gym or WeightWatchers memberships at a cost to the healthcare provider or Government.
  • spookyface
    spookyface Posts: 421 Member
    why do you want to crush our mellow?
  • thankyou4thevenom
    thankyou4thevenom Posts: 1,581 Member
    edited July 2015
    bpetrosky wrote: »
    peter56765 wrote: »
    2wise4u wrote: »
    The OP depresses me a little but not enough to give up. Now I'm more determined than ever.
    Would it depress you to learn that the odds of being able to paint your house are low based on the fact that a lot of people who weren't even trying to paint their houses didn't succeed in painting their houses?

    Bad analogy. People don't paint their house for a variety of reasons: 1) it doesn't need it, 2) they have vinyl siding or stain or stucco or something else, 3) they are renting. In contrast, I'd say the vast majority of people who are overweight wish that they were not overweight. The study is trying to determine if people tend to turn that wish into reality. The answer is no. Weight loss appears to be one of those areas where most people need a helping hand.

    The analogy is sound. The study didn't even determine if the people wished to lose weight. It merely looked at a mass of people whose medical records indicated they were obese, and looked for how many lost weight over a period of time. No determination at all of how many even tried.

    Take any population attempting to achieve a goal and calculate the probability of success. That's a good metric. Throw in a much larger group that has no interest in that goal, and you'll see the number skewed much lower. That's a useless metric.



    Plus they purposely excluded a group of people who were deliberately trying to lose weight.
  • sunnyazgirl
    sunnyazgirl Posts: 271 Member
    kateyb94 wrote: »
    1) Posting this here is very insensitive. While most of the people commenting obviously believe they can overcome the odds do you know how many people are going to read this and feel even crappier about themselves than they already do?
    2) this article talks specifically about DIETING not a lifestyle change, which we all know is a failed approach anyway.
    3) To anyone who fits into the category of being discouraged by this: you are not a number. You are not a statistic. Just because 99% of people according to some study fail doesn't mean you will. You are a product of your own design, no one else can tell you that you can't succeed. Prove 'em wrong.

    I have lost 96 pounds and have 64 pounds to go. Yes, ths knocked the wind out of my sails momentarily, but I haven't gone this far to give up. Thank you for all of you who have succeeded and posted. You are helping bring my sprts back to life!
  • joolieb1
    joolieb1 Posts: 140 Member
    I already went from obese to overweight n love a challenge, bring it on xx