Your own body weight can greatly impact your risk for future disease.
But many people believe that to make a difference in your health and disease risks, you have to do something monumental and perhaps beyond your own ability. The task seems insurmountable and you may feel rather helpless and disempowered to change your behaviors.
The reality, however, is quite different: to impact your health, even small changes make a difference. In fact, a new study recently published in The Journal of the American Heart Association found that people don’t have to lose a huge amount of weight for a significant degree of risk reduction.
Researchers looked at cardiovascular risk factors in 442 middle-aged women who were enrolled in a 24-month weight loss program. At the time of enrollment, the women had an average body mass index of 33.9 (obese) and were randomly placed into groups who consumed 42% to 68% of their food in a pre-packaged form. The participants began consuming other foods after 12 months and were encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables as well as to participate in 30 minutes of exercise at least five days per week.
The results of this study indicated that after 12 months, 85% of the women had lost some weight and at the 24-month mark, 74% had still kept some of the weight off. But the biggest reveal of the study was that even losing a small amount of weight had big impacts, health-wise.
Even the women who lost 10% of their body weight had significant reductions in cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation, and waist circumference. The women who lost at least 10% or more of their body weight after 24 months also had lower LDL cholesterol, insulin, and triglycerides.
“The findings show that small amounts of weight loss can make a difference,” said study co-author, Dr. Cynthia Thomson. “You don’t have to necessarily get to the ‘ideal’ body weight—a 10% weight loss seems to have quite an impact on most of the clinical markers associated with CVD and diabetes.”
This study shows that even making small dietary changes and losing modest amounts of weight can impact your health for the better. However, these changes must be maintained. In order to keep this improved health status. You must make permanent changes in terms of food, dietary choices, and the frequency and type of your physical activity program.
Busko, M., “Modest Weight Loss Lowers CVD Risk in Middle-Aged Women,” Medscape website; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/818032, last accessed, Dec.24, 2013.
Dow, C., et al., “Predictors of Improvement in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors With Weight Loss in Women,” J Am Heart Assoc 2013; 2: e000152.