Weight loss benefits persist even after a few pounds are regained

March 28, 2023 — New analysis provides promising answer to weight loss question: Is losing weight and gaining weight better than never losing weight at all?

According to a new study, people who lost weight but regained some of it saw a sustained improvement in health for at least 5 years after the initial weight loss. Long-term benefits included reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“Many doctors and patients recognize that weight loss is often followed by weight gain, and they fear that this makes trying to lose weight pointless,” said Oxford University professor and researcher Susan A. Jebb, Ph.D., in her study. statement. “This concept has become a barrier to supporting people in weight loss. For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight is an effective way to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

results were published Tuesday in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The researchers analyzed data from 124 previously published studies in which people lost weight in so-called “behavioral weight loss programs.” These programs focus on lifestyle and behavioral changes, such as eating healthy foods and increasing physical activity.

The average participant was 51 years old and was considered obese based on body mass index (a measure that combines weight and height). On average, people lost 5 to 10 pounds and typically gained less than 1 pound a year.

People who participated in the most intensive programs had significant long-term benefits compared to people who participated in less intensive programs or did not follow the official weight loss program at all. Programs that were considered intensive had features such as partial or total meal replacements, intermittent fasting, or financial incentives dependent on weight loss.

Specific average benefits included:

Systolic blood pressure decreased by 1.5 points one year after participating in the program and 0.4 points lower after 5 years. the score, which compares total cholesterol to “good” or HDL cholesterol, was 1.5 points lower at 1 year and 5 years after participating in the intensive program.

The researchers found that the benefits of weight loss decreased as people gained more and more weight.

Obesity affects 42% of adults in the US, according to the CDC, and is known to increase the risk of many dangerous health conditions, including heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher.

The new findings could be especially important in combating the weight gain that often occurs after people stop taking weight loss medications, write Vishal N. Rao, MD, MD, and Neha J. Pagidipati, MD, MD , both from Duke University School. medicine, in letter published along with the new study. They called the reported risk reduction “favourable, albeit modest”, and stated that data was needed to show long-term results.

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