Weight loss may provide long-term health benefits for obese people, but not for thin people

According to a study of nearly 200,000 people, intentional weight loss can provide long-term health benefits for obese people, regardless of the method or strategy they use. Those who lost more than 4.5 kg had less weight gain and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than those who did not lose weight, but lean people did not benefit, attempts weight loss is associated with longer term weight gain and higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Research publishes September 27e in the open access journal OLP Medicine.

Obesity can lead to higher risks of diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Weight control can be an effective strategy to prevent and manage obesity and related diseases, although long-term weight change and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes are not well studied.

Qi Sun and colleagues from the TH Chan Harvard School of Public Health, USA, included healthy participants from three prospective cohort studies from 1988 to 2017. The individuals were between 24 and 78 years old and were mostly women; 11.6% men and 14.2% men in the cohorts. They grouped the methods that led to weight loss of more than 4.5 kg into seven categories: low calorie diet, exercise, low calorie diet plus exercise, fasting, commercial weight loss program, diet pills and a combination of pills fasting, commercial and slimming. (FCP).

Exercise was most effective for long-term weight control and prevention in obese people and associated with the least weight gain after four years -; 4.2% less weight on average than at baseline in obese people, 2.5% weight loss in overweight people and 0.4% in thin people. This was reversed for FCP, which saw obese people experience 0.3% weight loss, overweight people gain 2% more weight, and lean people gain 3.7% more weight. % in addition.

24 years later, the risk of diabetes has been reduced for obese people, regardless of weight loss strategy – ranging from a 21% reduction for exercise to a 13% reduction for diet pills. For overweight people, researchers found a 9% reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes for exercise to a 42% increase in risk for those taking pills, and in lean people, any loss of weight was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes -; ranging from a 9% increase for exercise and a 54% increase for pills or FCP.

The authors conclude that while weight loss can be beneficial for overweight and obese people, weight loss strategies do not bring the same gains to thin people and weight loss strategies should only be used by those who are medically in need.

We were a bit surprised when we first saw the positive associations of weight loss attempts with faster weight gain and higher risk of type 2 diabetes in lean people. However, we now know that such observations are backed up by biology, which unfortunately leads to adverse health effects when skinny people try to intentionally lose weight. The good news is that obese people will clearly benefit from losing a few pounds and the health benefits last even when the weight loss is temporary.”

Qi Sun, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health


Journal reference:

If, K., et al. (2022) Weight loss strategies, weight change, and type 2 diabetes among American healthcare professionals: a cohort study. OLP Medicine. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1004094.

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