It’s no secret that losing weight is extremely difficult for a lot of people, but new research published July 18 in the American Journal of Public Health breaks down just how hard it is, and why.

The average obese woman has approximately a 1 in 124 chance of returning to normal weight; for men, it’s roughly a one in 210 chance – according to this research. Even more disturbingly, the study finds that obese men and women have incredibly low odds losing even 5% of body weight in a given year: one in 10 for women, and one in 12 men. [1]

Scientists reached these conclusions through analyzing the health records of more than 278,000 people living in England over a nine-year period. Those individuals who managed to lose 5% of their body weight or more gained it back within years’ time.

“For patients with a BMI of 30 or greater kilograms per meters squared, maintaining weight loss was rare and the probability of achieving normal weight was extremely low,” the study’s authors conclude. “Research to develop new and more effective approaches to obesity management is urgently required.”

Obese individuals face an uphill climb, but morbidly obese people face Mt. Everest; According to the study, morbidly obese men have a 1 in 1,290 chance of slimming down while women fared better with a 1 in 677 chance. [1]

The numbers sound hopeless, but in reality, they’re not (even if they were 100% true, which they aren’t). Even Everest is surmountable when climbers properly pace their steps. The word “diet” strikes fear in the hearts of nearly everyone looking to shed some pounds, and it should. Most people who have lost weight, gotten healthy, and remained that way know it’s a cross-country trek and not a sprint.

An August 2013 editorial published in JAMA confirmed what many ex-dieters already know: people looking to lose weight and keep it off should abandon the idea of going on a diet entirely.

Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts and Bradley Appelhans of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said patients often get confused thinking one diet is superior to another, when it’s changes in lifestyles, not changes in diets, that truly help people lose weight, keep it off and avoid serious illness later in life. [2]

“The amount of resources that have gone into studying ‘what’ to eat is incredible, and years of research indicate that it doesn’t really matter, as long as overall calories are reduced,” Appelhans told LiveScience. “What does matter is ‘how’ to eat, as well as other things in lifestyle interventions, such as physical activity and supportive behaviors that help people stay on track [in the] long term.” [2]

Need a launch pad? Here at Natural Society, we have loads of practical weight loss/healthy lifestyle tips to point readers in the right direction. The first step to climbing Everest may be something as simple as sprinkling turmeric on your food. Here are 11 ways to naturally boost your metabolism.

[1] The Washington Post

[2] LiveScience


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About Julie Fidler:
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.