Regularly I find claims in weight loss books and magazines saying that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for failing with your weight loss since studies has shown that 95% fail with their weight loss. I’m not saying it’s easy to lose weight, trust me, but why mention a worst case scenario when there are absolutely no studies backing up their claims?
Where does the numbers come from?
As always when I hear statistics I get a bit suspicious. Where does the numbers ome from? Is it true? Can I confirm it? Some people say that 73% of all statistics is made up on the spot and there’s even a phrase going lies, damned lies, and statistics. So – where does the claim come from? All evidence points at a study conducted in 1959 by Dr. Albert Stunkard and Mavis McLaren-Hume where 100 patients where treated for obesity. Dr. Stunkard explains (Fritsch, 1999):
The 100 patients in the study were just given a diet and sent on their way. That was state of the art in 1959. I’ve been sort of surprised that people keep citing it; I know we do better.
The paper made a big impact because everybody thought obesity was pretty easy to treat. This showed that, for whatever reason, it wasn’t.
So – we have a 50 year old study (nothing wrong with that) consisting of 100 people who where given a diet and sent on their way. There was no regular monitoring, no support, nothing. Are you really surprised by the results?
How many succeed with their weight loss then?
There are as many numbers as studies on weight loss but I’ve decided to look closer at a study by Rena Wing and James Hill published in Annual Review of Nutrition, vol. 21, no. 1, July 2001 where they studied data eg from National Weight Control Registry with the conclusion that 20% of those who lose one tenth of their weight still keep their new weight after a year.
According to the report roughly one out of every five people who lose weight seems to be able to keep it of for at least one year.
What does that really mean?
The thing is that this doesn’t say anything about your weight loss. We can go through statistics all day long and find different results depending on different sources but it’s obvious that more than 95% succeed with their weight loss.
It doesn’t matter if it’s 20 or 90 percent who succeed since it’s all about probability and you can always be one of those by making a commitment!
Please share this post with your friends so we can kill the myth once and for all.