Everyone needs to eat. Most of us use the words diet and dieting interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing.

  • A diet is the food that a person habitually eats.
  • Dieting is restricting your food intake in order to lose weight.

A diet provides many nutrients. It is important to know what these nutrients are, what they do for you and where you can find them. Unfortunately many of us are more concerned about dieting than the contents of our diet. We will try to address both issues.

The National Weight Control Registry was established in 1994 to study people who had successful, long-term weight loss. To qualify, individuals must have lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for over one year. The emphasis is on weight maintenance. Over 10,000 Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs. and kept the weight off for 5.5 years.

While there is no consensus among the participants on which diet is best, they all modify what they eat (98%), and increase physical activity (94%). Most members count calories and eat less fat. On average their diets provide about 24% of energy from fat (versus 35% in the average North American). 45% have lost the weight on their own while the other 55% used some other type of program (e.g. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig etc. or health care professional).

The strategies used most frequently are:

  • Eating breakfast daily (78%).  
  • Exercising daily (90%). The average dieter engages in 60-90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity daily. Most common activities reported were walking, cycling, aerobics, running or hiking.
  • 28% of the participants used walking as their only exercise.
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week. The average Canadian watches 28.5 hours and American 35.8 hours.