Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Surprisingly Small Weight Loss Can Bring Large Health Benefits

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Weight Loss / Health and Wellbeing /

Weight loss scalesFor those who struggle with weight loss and obesity, there is good news according to a recently published study. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight is enough to reap significant health benefits. The study consisted of a randomised controlled trial of 40 obese men and women and it compared the health outcomes of 5%, 10% and 15% weight loss. The results were published in the journal Cell Metabolism and concluded that 5% weight loss was enough to reduce multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The importance of weight loss

Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Senior study author, Samuel Klein, of Washington University School of Medicine, US, said that the findings could help obese people to achieve manageable weight loss targets. The findings suggest that for a woman weighing twelve stone, losing just over half a stone could improve her health profile.

Surprisingly Small Weight Loss Can Bring Large Health Benefits

Professor¬†Klein went on to say; “Our findings show that even a small amount of weight loss has important health benefits for multiple organ systems. We hope that these findings will encourage obese people to take reasonable steps to watch what they eat and increase their physical activity, because this will translate into a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease.”

Among the 19 people from the group of 40 who lost 5% of their body weight, the function of the cells which secrete insulin improved. Insulin is the hormone which takes sugar out of the blood and into cells for energy. In people who are insulin resistant, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes. After losing 5% of their body weight, the researchers found that the participants’ insulin sensitivity in fat tissue, muscle tissue and the liver all improved thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. They also had less fat in the liver and less overall body fat.

Nine of the participants went on to reduce in size and eventually lost 15% of their body weight. This brought about further improvements in the function of insulin secreting cells and insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue.

However, neither insulin sensitivity in the liver nor in fat tissue continued to improve as they had pretty much achieved their maximum benefit at 5% weight loss.

Professor Klein added; “The current guidelines for treating obesity recommend a 5 to 10% weight loss – but losing 5% of your body weight is much easier than losing 10%. So it may make sense for patients to aim at the easier target.”

The researchers went on to say that future studies should examine the effects of small amounts of weight loss on other obesity-linked problems such as arthritis and lung disease.

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