Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors among Americans Trying to Lose Weight: 2000 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System


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Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy., NE, Mailstop K26, Atlanta, GA 30341. E-mail:


Objective: To examine the prevalence and correlates of trying to lose weight among U.S. adults, describe weight loss strategies, and assess attainment of recommendations for weight control (eating fewer calories and physical activity).

Research Methods and Procedures: This study used the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a state-based telephone survey of adults ≥18 years of age (N = 184, 450) conducted in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico in 2000.

Results: The prevalence of trying to lose weight was 46% (women) and 33% (men). Women reported trying to lose weight at a lower BMI than did men; 60% of overweight women were trying to lose weight, but men did not reach this level until they were obese. Adults who had a routine physician checkup in the previous year and reported medical advice to lose weight vs. checkup and no medical advice to lose weight had a higher prevalence of trying to lose weight (81% women and 77% men vs. 41% women and 28% men, respectively). The odds of trying to lose weight increased as years of education increased. Among respondents who were trying to lose weight, ∼19% of women and 22% of men reported using fewer calories and ≥150 min/wk leisure-time physical activity.

Discussion: A higher percentage of women than men were trying to lose weight; both sexes used similar weight loss strategies. Education and medical advice to lose weight were strongly associated with trying to lose weight. Most persons trying to lose weight were not using minimum recommended weight loss strategies.