There's an often quoted statistic that 95% of all people who lose much
weight soon regain it. I'm skeptical of the statistic because:
I suspect the true long-term success rate is somewhere between 50%
and 95%. And that if everyone who wished to lose weight were to try
MacDougall/Ornish/Pritikin/Rodale/Bailey, it would be between 95% and
- I know that, however those numbers are collected, I don't
show up in them, as I've never been polled on the subject, and never been
enrolled in a weight-loss program or treated for obesity. Of course
I'm just one person, but the same would apply to anyone else in similar
- I know more people who have successfully lost a lot of weight and
kept it off than who are currently fat. Virtually none of them show up
in any statistics either.
- It stands to reason that programs and doctors can't do anything
one can't do for oneself (given that drugs and surgery are currently
(and rightly) in disrepute for weight loss), and considering the price
of programs and medical treatments, I can't believe anyone would
opt for them unless they had tried and failed on their own. Since
programs provide nothing new, failures mostly remain failures.
Especially if they expect to just lie back, pay money, and "get fixed".
- I've posted a query to several newsgroups and mailing lists relating
to health, nutrition, exercise, or weight loss, asking if anyone
had followed the MacDougall/Ornish/Pritikin/Rodale/Bailey plans and
failed to lose all excess weight and keep it off. Only one
claimed she had.
- A Consumer Reports (June 1993 issue) poll of all readers showed
about a 1/3 success rate, mosty do-it-yourself. And their poll was
biased, in that it only queried readers who had "attemted to lose weight
in the past three years". People like me who had done it five years
earlier fell through the cracks. As did those who did it ten years
ago, or fifteen, or twenty, etc. (In context, it was a reasonable
restriction on their poll, since it was intended to evaluate currently
available commercial weight loss programs, not to determine the true
long term success rate of weight loss.)
- When you see a fat person, you don't know if they have even attempted
to lose weight. They may not have. When you see a thin person, you don't
know whether they may have formerly been fat. Nobody can tell by looking
at me that I ever weighed more than I do now. (Actually, one nurse did
ask me, when I was donating blood. I don't know how she could tell.)
- Many fat people never even attempt to lose weight, in part
because of this bogus statistic.
Last updated July 4th, 1995.