By Nicole Brewer

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)–We all know the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the challenges that come with it: from maintaining our diet to staying active.

“Everyone has good intentions, but it requires a lot of effort every single day,” said Barbara Wolf of Wynnewood.

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“I think getting to the gym, that’s the biggest thing,” said Angela Lloyd of West Philadelphia.

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Now, new research shows more Americans are throwing in the towel, at least when it comes to weight loss.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 49% of overweight people were trying to lose the weight, compared to 56% back in 1990.

“To me, it’s somewhat surprising,” said Dr. Michael Lowe, a professor of Psychology at Drexel University, who specializes in weight regulation.

He says the negative health effects associated with obesity should motivate people. But, an increasingly toxic food environment and unrealistic expectations often get in the way.

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Researchers also point to growing acceptance of bigger bodies. In this study, the sharpest decline in dieting was among African American women.

“Nobody really wants to change, be something they’re not,” said Makaya Golden of South Philly.

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“But, we must be mindful again of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension. All of that,” added Lisa Butler of Elkins Park.

“Successful weight loss does reduce disease risks associated with obesity,” explained Lowe. “So, we might see more diabetes, more hypertension.”

The key, according to Lowe is focusing less on the number you see on the scale and more on changing your lifestyle a little bit at a time.

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