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Am J Public Health. 1992 Sep;82(9):1251-7.

Weight loss attempts in adults: goals, duration, and rate of weight loss.

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  • 1National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Ga 30333.



Although attempted weight loss is common, little is known about the goals and durations of weight loss attempts and the rates of achieved weight loss in the general population.


Data were collected by telephone in 1989 from adults aged 18 years and older in 39 states and the District of Columbia. Analyses were carried out separately for the 6758 men and 14,915 women who reported currently trying to lose weight.


Approximately 25% of the men respondents and 40% of the women respondents reported that they were currently trying to lose weight. Among men, a higher percentage of Hispanics (31%) than of Whites (25%) or Blacks (23%) reported trying to lose weight. Among women, however, there were no ethnic differences in prevalence. The average man wanted to lose 30 pounds and to weigh 178 pounds; the average woman wanted to lose 31 pounds and to weigh 133 pounds. Black women wanted to lose an average of 8 pounds more than did White women, but Black women's goal weight was 10 pounds heavier. The average rate of achieved weight loss was 1.4 pounds per week for men and 1.1 pounds per week for women; these averages, however, may reflect only the experience of those most successful at losing weight.


Attempted weight loss is a common behavior, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, and weight loss goals are substantial; however, obesity remains a major public health problem in the United States.

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