Probability of obese people reaching ‘normal’ weight less than 1%

ere’s another reason not to get fat.

We all know someone who was severely overweight, went on a diet, lost the weight, then quickly regained all of it back . . . and more. Now, a new study confirms our experience: the likelihood that obese people will lose the fat and return to a “normal” healthy weight is nearly ZERO — less than 1%.


Obesity is more than being over weight. The Centers for Disease Control classify a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9 as “overweight,” anything above that as obese:

  • “Normal weight” means a BMI of 18.5–24.9
  • “Over weight” means a BMI of 25.0–29.9
  • “Obesity” means a BMI of 30.0–34.9
  • “Severe obesity” means a BMI of 35.0–39.9
  • “Morbid obesity” means a BMI of 40 or over

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s mass (weight) by the square of his or her height, typically expressed either in metric or lbs. and inches. This is the formula:

BMI = mass (lb) ÷ (height in inches)² x 703

There’s an easier way to calculate your BMI. Click here!

CBS DC reports, July 20, 2015, that despite the fact that the great American diet industry makes several billion dollars worth of business each year, a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health says that most obese people will never achieve a “normal” weight.

Researchers from King’s College London analyzed 9 years worth of data for 76,704 obese men and 99,791 obese women from the United Kingdom and found that the annual probability of reaching a normal weight was less than 1% for both groups — just 1 in 210 for obese men and 1 in 124 for obese women. People who received bariatric (stomach-stapling) surgery were excluded from the study.

Some other findings:

  • For the morbidly obese (BMI = 40.0–44.9), those odds decreased to 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women.
  • Some 50% of patients who managed to achieve a 5% weight loss regained the weight within two years.
  • Over the full 9-year course of the study, only 1.67% of the men and 2.25% of the women managed to achieve a normal body weight.

The study’s dismal conclusion:

“Our findings indicate that current nonsurgical obesity treatment strategies are failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients.… Even when treatment is accessed, evidence suggests behavioral weight loss interventions focusing on caloric restriction and increased physical activity are unlikely to yield clinically significant reductions in body weight.”

A 2012 study had warned that at the rate we’re going, by the year 2030, in 15 years, more than 4 of every 10 (42%) Americans may become obese and 11% severely obese. Just think of what this means in health care costs….

The table below gives the BMI equivalents in height and weight. To use the table, find your height in the left-hand column, then move across the row to your weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI for that height and weight.

BMI in height-weight

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