Many people concerned about their weight feel overwhelmed by the amount of weight they are ‘supposed’ to lose. So much so that they avoid addressing it at all. Why are we concerned about weight in the first place? Well, largely because extra weight is linked to health concerns including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, lower body joint pain, and certain forms of cancer. While it is true that not everyone who carries extra weight is unhealthy, a group of researchers in London, England found that, over time, extra weight can take its toll. In 2015, data they reviewed from a large, long-term study1 showed that, after 20 years, half of adults who met the criteria for ‘obese’ and ‘healthy’ at the start of the study were ‘obese and ‘unhealthy’ by the same criteria. Also, in the 20 year interval, healthy obese adults were found to be 8 times more likely to progress to an ‘unhealthy’ state than their healthy non-obese counter parts.
We believe that you don’t have to become ‘non-obese’ to maintain your health and now there is more evidence to support this. A study published in Cell Metabolism2 looks to clarify why losing and maintaining a loss of just 5% of body weight can have a real benefit. The researchers found that small but sustained weight loss improved markers of developing health problems. A 5% weight loss is not what most people concerned about their weight would consider a ‘successful’ weight loss. It’s time to change the way we think about success.
The Canadian Obesity Network, Canada’s largest obesity association, advocates 5 key principles in understanding weight management. Three of the five principles remind us to rethink why addressing weight is important and the markers of progress or success. They state that:
- weight management is about improving health and well-being, not simply about reducing numbers on the scale;
- a person’s ‘best’ weight may never be an ideal BMI-based weight; and
- success is different for every individual.
These three principles, along with this new evidence, remind us that modest reductions in weight can lead to big improvements in health. We must account for quality of life, preserving self-confidence, and the challenge of keeping weight off when setting goals and measuring success. If we can find that ‘sweet spot’ of a weight that reduces the risk of health problems over time, we can defend over time, and balances effort while still allowing us to enjoy life, then doesn’t that sound more ‘do-able’? Success is closer than you might think. If you are wondering about what 5% weight loss would look like for you, why not start with a consult with one of LEAF’s physician weight specialists.
1 The Natural Course of Healthy Obesity Over 20 Years, Joshua A. Bell, Mark Hamer, Séverine Sabia, Archana Singh-Manoux, G. David Batty, Mika Kivimaki, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 65, Issue 1, Pages 101-102
2 Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic function And Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity, Magkos et al., 2016, Cell Metabolism 23, 1–11 April 12, 2016