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Five Percent Weight Loss Boosts Health Benefits for Obese Population

Losing weight is many times much easier said than done. There are more questions than answers it seems. What changes should you make to your diet? How often do you need to exercise? What type of exercise is best? What if a current medical condition is an obstacle you don’t know how to overcome? We so often “fail” at our attempts to lose weight and keep it off because of life circumstances and a constantly changing landscape of diet and exercise trends. However, the findings of a new study help to clear the confusion for those who fear they won’t be able to lose enough weight to yield the health benefits they are seeking. Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine say losing just five percent body weight for those who are obese has the greatest health benefits.

“Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with five percent weight loss,” said principal investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition in a recent article. “The current guidelines for treating obesity recommend a five to 10 percent weight loss, but losing five percent of your body weight is much easier than losing 10 percent. So it may make sense for patients to aim at the easier target.”

Though this was a small study of 40 individuals who were obese but do not have diabetes, it is the first study to examine the outcomes of five percent weight loss compared to 10 percent weight loss. They found that with five percent weight loss, individuals significantly reduced their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while improving metabolic function in the liver, fat and muscle tissue. Researchers discovered that individuals who lost more than five percent body weight did see improvements in markers of health, but not with all organ systems. The liver, for example, achieved maximum benefits at five percent weight loss.

Researchers believe this evidence will help prompt a growing portion of the population at risk for major health conditions due to obesity to take the first steps towards small, but lasting weight loss.