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Watching Your Weight

In America, every other person you talk to might be trying a new diet or heading to the gym to lose weight, literally. Nearly half of adults over the age of 20 have been focusing on diet, nutrition and exercise to lose weight in the previous year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were released by the CDC with details from data collected between 2013 and 2016, revealing multiple demographic trends about who is trying to lose weight. We spoke with Kristen Stehle, MSN, APRN, WHNP-BC of Women's Health Primary Care Shoreline about the results and how her patients have found success in weight management. 

Gender and Age

Results indicated that women were more focused on losing weight than men. Respondents categorized as middle-aged were the most likely to attempt losing weight, with younger adults closely following and older adults being the least likely. Across all age groups, women indicated an increased possibility to engage in a diet for weight loss.

Percentage of study participants who pursued weight loss by gender and age: Gender and Age
Source: CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Body Type

Individuals challenged with the most weight to lose made the biggest efforts to slim down. Kristen pointed out the prevalence of obesity in the US in 2015-2016 is 39.8% according to the CDC. She continued that, “as a population, we are not being educated and supported in attaining and maintaining a healthy weight.” According to the survey, two-thirds of obese adults and nearly half of overweight adults attempted weight loss efforts. Just over a quarter of normal-weight to underweight adults reported engagement, showing that all body types attempted to lose weight. 

Percentage of study participants who pursued weight loss by body type:
Body Type
Source: CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Income Level and Race

Income level appeared to play a role in deciding to diet. Three income categories were defined by researchers based on the federal poverty line (FPL). Results indicated the most affluent participants had the highest inclination to attempt losing weight. From there, participation in weight loss efforts declined by income group level. Kristen noted that many of per patients struggle to maintain their diet because of cost. In addition, “It's significantly less expensive to eat a diet that is higher in pasta, rice and processed or canned foods than it is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. It is also more challenging in terms of preparation. As working parents with busy schedules, it's challenging to prepare a healthy meal. We work with our patients to find recipes that are affordable and accessible as well as develop strategies for meal prep at the beginning of the week to make cooking less time consuming.” Overall, there was no significant statistical deviations related to race. 

Percentage of study participants who pursued weight loss by income level and race:
Income Level and Race
Source: CDC National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Diet Method 

Exercising and eating less remain the most popular methods to lose weight and were tied at the top of the list for study participants. Many dieters reported practicing healthy food selections, eating habits and staying hydrated. Deficit dieting approaches rounded out the least used methods used by participants, with the very least skipping meals. Related to the Women’s Health Primary Care Shoreline practice Kristen said, “we have had good results in helping patients improve their fasting blood sugar and Hgb A1c with strict low carbohydrate diets and ketogenic eating. It's very exciting to watch their success.”

Percentage of study participants who pursued weight loss by diet method:
 Diet Method
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016

Popular Diets

The CDC did not report additional details on the types of diets participants engaged in however, U.S. News & World Report released its annual report on "Best Diets," which evaluates and scores, “40 diets on a range of levels, from their heart healthiness to their likelihood to help you lose weight.”  Earlier this year, the panel ranked Weight Watchers as the top overall weight-loss diet with the Volumetrics coming in second, and tied Jenny Craig and the vegan diet as third, which considers short-term and long-term weight loss scores. The Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet were tied at the top of the list for best overall diets and ranked fourteenth and sixth respectively as best weight loss diets. All diets in the top rankings focus on inclusive meal choices, nutritional diversity and scientific results that show an impact on health improvement. 

Conversely, the Body Reset Diet, Acid Alkaline Diet and Whole30 program were at the bottom of the rankings this year. All of three diets fared negatively as a sustainable nutritional plan for long term weight loss. These plans include restrictive nutrition rules and were scored as difficult to follow with little scientific support to back up the claims made by each diet.

Top ten 2018 diets for weight loss listed by U.S. News & World Report ranking:
 Popular Diets
Source: U.S. News & World Report, Best Diets for Weight loss


If you are interested in assistance with weight loss, your Women’s Health Connecticut health care provider can help. Several of our offices provide wellness and nutritional support to help you on your path to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Women's Health Primary Care Shoreline is starting a keto support group beginning October 4th that will share recipes and strategies for success and is currently accepting enrollment registration. The A simple place to start is our Nutrition Matters article, which covers the new food pyramid guidelines issued by the USDA for healthy and balanced meals.  We also have providers that are participating Ideal Protein® Centers. 

Please remember to always seek the advice of your physician or clinician regarding specific medical questions or conditions.


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