Even small weight loss benefits the obese

Feb 23, 2016, 2:39 PM EST
Source: Tony Alter/flickr
Source: Tony Alter/flickr
Risk factors for the obese include coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but a new, small study said that, for obese men and women, losing as little at 5% of their body weight can hep prevent those life-threatening developments, and that most guidelines in the past have recommended losing 5 to 10% body weight. Reuters reports:
“Five percent is really a very reasonable goal for most obese patients to achieve, it’s much easier than 10 percent,” said senior author Dr. Samuel Klein of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.
Some people hear the goal of “five to 10 percent” weight loss and assume they should shoot for 10 percent, and are disappointed when they fail, Klein told Reuters Health by phone.
“If you can lose 5 percent and keep it off, that’s quite a success,” he said.
The researchers randomly assigned 40 obese adults to either weight maintenance or diet-induced weight loss.
Tests on the volunteers found that most of the improvements in so-called insulin sensitivity were seen with the first 5% of weight loss. For a person weighing 100kg, or 15 stone 7 pounds, that amounts to losing 5kg or 11lbs. The study is published in the journal Cell Metabolism.
“If you’re obese and have metabolic abnormalities, which these people did, and that means insulin resistance, some fat in the liver, but not yet type II diabetes, you’ll do yourself a remarkable benefit by losing only 5% body weight and keeping it off. You don’t have to become svelte and thin,” Klein said.
The team again suggests that the recommendation of losing 5-10% of one’s body weight, which certain health associations advise, may not be necessary. To start out, 5% may be enough. And to a 200-pound person who wants to lose weight, hearing that it’s okay to start with just 10 pounds, rather than 20, may make a big difference, psychologically.