For Immediate Release:
A global team of scientists ask the public to help create the world’s largest weight management registry.
Dec 14, 2020
A new consortium of obesity scientists have launched an International Weight Control Registry (IWCR) with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to discover the best existing and new strategies for weight loss among people around the world. IWCR will distill the findings into effective personalized solutions, and share these strategies worldwide to help people achieve healthier weights with less struggle.
“We’ve advanced beyond conversations about willpower, but we look on this science as being in its infancy — there is so much more to learn,” said James O. Hill, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and co-founder of the International Weight Control Registry group. “We have come a long way but we need to do better.”
The registry will be an open, global research platform designed to break down silos and barriers and bring people together in service to solve a major health challenge. This will be the largest and most comprehensive project of its kind.
The new registry is an online platform (https://internationalweightcontrolregistry.org/) where adults can answer valuable questions about their weight to help researchers find better solutions. Questions relate to weight history, eating, physical activity, psychology, cognition, stress, economic, environment and contextual factors. The questionnaires collect a richly detailed picture of participant’s lives, and participants can fill them out at their own pace.
“We are building a diverse community of people interested in weight management,” said Susan B. Roberts, PhD, senior scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and IWCR co-founder. “We hope participants will feel it’s a great way share their struggles and success to help others. It’s science at a massive scale powered by personal weight loss experiences. We know there are new things the public can help scientists discover. We think the potential results — as well as our participants’ satisfaction in helping achieve them — will be substantial.”
Additional research centers involved in the registry include the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, the University of Kansas, and the University of New Hampshire, as well as scientists from countries around the world.
A critical factor for success will be people completing the registry. The researchers are sure that ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to weight management, and when tens of thousands of people register, patterns will be revealed — what is working for different ages, men versus women, and people from different ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds.
“Gathering large amounts of data from across the globe will be revelatory. We expect to see differences that exceed region and culture,” said Frank Greenway, Ph.D., Professor and Medical Director of the Outpatient Research Clinic at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Weather, food and exercise options are all factors that need to be analyzed. With thousands of registrants, we will be able to summarize what is working for different groups to benefit everyone.”
The scientists recognize they need the full range of dieting experience, from ‘successful losers’ to yo-yo dieters who have tried to lose weight but don’t have meaningful traction. “Information from people who struggle will be as important for finding the best strategies for success as the information from those who find weight loss easier.” Said John Peters, Ph.D., Professor of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine.
The group is also building a newsletter and a social media presence where registry participants can connect. “Registry participants are going to be the first to hear about the exciting discoveries that will be made with the data,” said Roberts. “And it’s going to be a very dynamic place where people who are thoughtful about weight management can connect and share.”
The project’s large goal requires a large team, tremendous amounts of data collection and analysis. “It also means our volunteer participants will truly be our partners in this venture,” said Sai Das, Ph.D., a scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and an executive director of the International Weight Control Registry group. “Our Registry participants will be citizen-scientists.”
Anyone interested in weight loss is invited. To determine eligibility and enroll in the registry, potential participants will use the website https://internationalweightcontrolregistry.org/. Participants must be at least 18 years old and have succeeded at weight loss or are still pursuing their weight loss goals.
Susan. B Roberts, PhD
USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University,
Boston MA 02111
James O. Hill, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
Birmingham, AL 35222