The myth is that Americans are stuck in a hopeless cycle of weight loss and weight gain -- that we diet only to regain the lost weight immediately.

According to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control, however, for most of us the reality is the exact opposite.

Nearly six in 10 people who lose weight maintained their weight loss to within 5 percent after one year, according to a new CDC study.

"Weight maintenance following weight loss is doable," said lead author Edward Weiss, a medical epidemiologist with the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Unfortunately, the most obese were the ones who were most likely to regain weight lost by dieting. CDC researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on 1,310 adults ages 20 to 84 who had experienced "substantial" weight loss - 10 percent of their initial weight.

Only 7.6 percent of survey participants were still losing weight after one year, according to the authors.

Another 33.5 percent regained weight.

Putting pounds back on was a bigger problem for those who lost a greater percentage of their total body weight. "One possible explanation is that those who lost larger percentages of their maximum weight may have had to make greater lifestyle changes that are difficult to incorporate and sustain," the researchers suggest.

The study will appear in the July 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.