Shedding just a few pounds can lower the risk of serious health problems in obese adults, a small study suggests.
Researchers looked at 40 obese people who lost 5 percent, 10 percent and 15 percent of their weight. The study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that 5 percent weight loss was enough to reduce multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“These results demonstrate you get a large bang for your buck with a 5 percent weight loss,” senior study author Samuel Klein, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a journal news release.
“Based on these findings, we should reconsider changing current obesity practice guidelines to stress a target goal of 5 percent weight loss, rather than 5 percent to 10 percent weight loss, which increases the perception of failure when patients do not achieve weight losses that are greater than 5 percent,” Klein said.
Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Most treatment guidelines recommend that obese people lose 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight, the researchers explained.
These findings could help motivate obese people to achieve manageable weight loss targets, Klein said.
For a 200-pound woman, the findings suggest losing just 10 pounds could improve her health profile.
“Our findings show that even a small amount of weight loss has important health benefits for multiple organ systems,” Klein said. “We hope that these findings will encourage obese people to take reasonable steps to watch what they eat and increase their physical activity, because this will translate into a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease.”
Future studies should examine the effects of small amounts of weight loss on other obesity-linked health problems, such as arthritis and lung disease, the researchers added.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases explains how to choose a safe and effective weight-loss program.