Local News

Duke Study Aims To Help People Keep Lost Weight From Returning

Posted August 6, 2003

— How many times have you lost a few pounds only to gain them back? A new study at Duke hopes to find realistic ways to help people keep off the weight they lose.

Most people do not think much about gaining an extra pound or two. It was not a big concern for Maurice Darden.

"Every year it seemed like I gained five pounds and I'd take off two," he said.

Those three extra pounds a year eventually caught up with him. That is when Darden took part in a weight loss study at Duke and dropped 21 pounds.

"I feel a heck of a lot better now," he said with a laugh.

Then came the tough part -- keeping it off.

"Ninety-five percent of people who successfully lose weight regain it within a year," Duke researcher Dr. Laura Svetkey said.

Svetsky is leading a national study to find effective and realistic ways to help people who lose weight keep it off.

Svetkey focuses on groups most at risk for weight-related illnesses, particularly African-American men.

"The health risks are enormous in African-American men and we know that weight loss reduces that risk," Svetsky said.

Darden beat the odds. He is among the five percent keeping the weight off. What is his secret? Darden said his wife and family keep him motivated.

"My sister sends me fresh things from her garden in Virginia," he said.

He also keeps his refrigerator stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. Junk and fried foods are not allowed.

"That makes the difference. I changed my lifestyle -- not just my eating habits," he said.

Duke is enrolling people in the study. Participants will first be put on a weight loss plan to lose weight. Those who are successful will try different ways to help keep it off. For more information on the study, call (919) 419-5904.

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