Cluster analysis of the national weight control registry to identify distinct subgroups maintaining successful weight loss.


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Abstract

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest ongoing study of individuals successful at maintaining weight loss; the registry enrolls individuals maintaining a weight loss of at least 13.6 kg (30 lb) for a minimum of 1 year. The current report uses multivariate latent class cluster analysis to identify unique clusters of individuals within the NWCR that have distinct experiences, strategies, and attitudes with respect to weight loss and weight loss maintenance. The cluster analysis considers weight and health history, weight control behaviors and strategies, effort and satisfaction with maintaining weight, and psychological and demographic characteristics. The analysis includes 2,228 participants enrolled between 1998 and 2002. Cluster 1 (50.5%) represents a weight-stable, healthy, exercise conscious group who are very satisfied with their current weight. Cluster 2 (26.9%) has continuously struggled with weight since childhood; they rely on the greatest number of resources and strategies to lose and maintain weight, and report higher levels of stress and depression. Cluster 3 (12.7%) represents a group successful at weight reduction on the first attempt; they were least likely to be overweight as children, are maintaining the longest duration of weight loss, and report the least difficulty maintaining weight. Cluster 4 (9.9%) represents a group less likely to use exercise to control weight; they tend to be older, eat fewer meals, and report more health problems. Further exploration of the unique characteristics of these clusters could be useful for tailoring future weight loss and weight maintenance programs to the specific characteristics of an individual.

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