Dropping as little as five percent of one’s body weight can lead to significant health improvements, according to a new study published in the Cell Metabolism journal.
Researchers studied 40 obese people who lost five, 10 and 15 percent of their body weight, and found that even a five percent body weight loss was enough to lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“That’s what we see clinically, so it’s nice to see that validated,” said Domenica M. Rubino, M..D and director of the Washington Center for Weight Management and Research, Inc. in Arlington, who was not involved in the study. “It doesn’t require a tremendous amount of weight loss to see the improvement in quality of life and well being.”
In releasing their findings, researchers underscored the fact that obesity is a major risk factor for chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They expressed optimism that their findings could help motivate obese people to achieve manageable weight loss targets.
“[This study] should inspire people to say, ‘I can make some smaller changes and get some improvement,’” said Rubino. “ It makes weight loss a little more approachable. It’s less intimidating than if someone said the only way to get improvement in your health is to lose 60 pounds.”
The study suggested that if a 200-pound woman lost 10 pounds she could improve her health profile. “You can make modest lifestyle changes and improve your wellbeing,” said Rubino.
When attempting even a small weight loss, make your goals realistic [and] break down the project into smaller, more manageable parts, recommends Potomac, Md.-based nutritionist Janet Zalman, director of Zalman Nutrition.
“Don't try to change everything at once,” she said. “Begin with less sweets, less refined carbohydrates and then lower your total fat consumption.”