A mere 1 in 1,290 of men and 1 in 667 women reached a normal body weight. For those morbidly obese, the figure was even less encouraging: less than 0.15% for women and much less for men.

The study was led by King’s College London and was performed using United Kingdom health records.

“The greatest opportunity for stemming the current obesity epidemic is in wider-reaching public health policies to prevent obesity in the population”, he added. The research was funded by the National Institute for Health Research, which is NIHR, and it tracked the weight of 278,982 participants. If someone had bariatric surgery, then they were automatically excluded from the study.

The findings reveal that some other system may have to be used to help obese patients. Results showed that one in 12 men and one in 10 women lost five percent of their body weight in a year. “These findings highlight how hard it is for people with obesity to achieve and maintain even small amounts of weight loss…”

In fact, the chances are so slim for an obese man, there’s only a one in 210 likelihood that he will manage to drop to a healthy body weight. But for those with a BMI of above 40, the probability of losing weight decreased with only one out of 1,290 men, and for women it is one in 677. Most of all, the researchers wanted to know how many were able to bring their weight down to the most ideal level depending on their height and gender.

“Losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight has been shown to have meaningful health benefits and is often recommended as a weight loss target,” Fildes said.

University of Sydney obesity expert Dr Kieron Rooney said the problem with many diet-based treatment programs was they focused on a short-term weight-loss goal without teaching individuals it was about an entire lifestyle change.

Researchers concluded that traditional weight management programmes and current obesity treatments are actually failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients.

Co-researcher Prof Martin Gulliford of King’s College London said latest policies regarding managing obesity were not working to assist a large number of obese patients who she weight. New approaches are urgently needed to deal with this issue.

However, the study does not suggest that weight-loss efforts are futile, stressed Dr. Caroline Apovian, a spokeswoman for the Obesity Society who was not involved in the research.

Most people who are obese are highly unlikely to ever return to a normal weight, according to a new study.

If dieting just doesn’t work for you, you’re not alone.

Fildes said that once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight.