Overweight or obesity is a condition affecting 600 million people all over the globe. Not only adults even children are becoming obese these days.
Obesity has exposed us to various healthcare problems like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol level in blood, cardio-vascular diseases etc.
Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled making it an epidemic problem all over the world.
The only way out is gradual weight loss. This weight loss leads to better and healthy lifestyle.
Losing weight has certain health benefits like prevention of diseases (diabetes, hypertension, cardio-vascular diseases etc) and prolonging a person’s life span.
5 Science Backed Health Benefits of Weight Loss
Losing weight is not only a cure for obesity and its associated health problems but it also includes certain health benefits leading to healthier lifestyle. Here we discuss such health benefits of weight loss.
1. Weight loss prevents type 2 diabetes
The Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) suggests weight loss as one of the preventive measures for type 2 diabetes. It is well known that obese and overweight people are pre-disposed to this class of diabetes.
Hence, weight loss is recommended as a preventive measure and treatment for type 2 diabetes. Research shows moderate weight loss can prevent or delay the onset of this disease.
Primary outcome form an ongoing clinical trial of the Diabetes Prevention Program indicates this point. It shows lifestyle intervention like diet and exercise leading to weight loss as visible from BMI, waistline and hip line measurements.
This weight loss further reduces the blood glucose level and prevents diabetes type 2.
A 10 year follow up study with lifestyle intervention and metformin (anti-diabetic medicine) illustrated moderate weight loss and reduced diabetes risk by 58% and 13% respectively.
Another 12 month trial showed dietary weight loss coupled with exercise or without exercise reduced insulin resistance in obese post-menopausal women.
What does this mean?
These evidences clearly demonstrates the health benefit of weight loss in type 2 diabetes prevention. It acts by lowering the blood glucose level and the insulin resistance capabilities.
2. Weight loss reduces blood cholesterol level
CDC enlists reduced cholesterol level in blood among the health benefits of weight loss. 5-10% reduction of body weight can substantially lower the blood cholesterol level.
This reduced level of cholesterol enhances the body’s lipid profile (ratio of good and bad cholesterol) which further results in lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Normal level of total cholesterol in the body is 200mg/dL or below. HDL is best at 60mg/dL and LDL at 100-129mg/dL.
A 2 week clinical trial on high cholesterol and cardio-vascular disease risk patients illustrated this effect. Patients were treated with obesity reducing drug Orlisat.
It has been found that the group with orlisat had 7.4 kg weight reduction and a 25-30mg/dL reduction in LDL cholesterol and overall cholesterol.
Compared to this, the control group had 4.9 kg weight loss and 10-15mg/dL LDL cholesterol reduction.
8 week study on 11 type 2 diabetes patients showed the desired result of weight loss and reduced blood cholesterol and glucose level. Patients were subjected to a low calorie diet which caused 10.9kg weight loss and a reduction in LDL cholesterol , overall blood cholesterol level.
Another 21 day trial showed the effect of weight loss and reduced blood cholesterol. A diet modification caused 2.4-9.0 kg of weight reduction, overall cholesterol level reduction between 11-77mg/dL and LDL cholesterol reduction between 7-67mg/dL.
What does this mean?
Losing weight thus enhances our lipid profile by reducing the bad cholesterol (LDL) and overall cholesterol level, thus, further lowering cardio-vascular disease risk.
3.Weight loss reduces the risk of osteoarthritis
Obesity or overweight condition exerts more pressure on the knee joints which may lead to early onset of osteoarthritis. Hence weight loss is recommended for people suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
To be an effective cure approximately 10% weight reduction is advised. Research shows even mild weight loss can relieve pain and help in movement.
A clinical trial on 80 osteoarthritis patients showed promising results of 10% weight reduction and 28% improved knee function. The weight loss effect was more for individuals on a low energy diet.
Another 4-16months duration clinical trial supported this effect. It showed weight loss and exercise caused pain relief and increased mobility.
Analysis of data from several trials showcased this point. Physical exercise of knee and hip joints seems to be an effective cure for osteoarthritis. Some of these cases which followed a proper diet showed substantial weight loss and improvement in movement.
What does this mean?
One of the health benefits of weight loss is prevention and cure of knee osteoarthritis. This occurs by causing pain relief and improvement in joint movements.
4. Weight loss enhances fertility in women, specially in PCOS women
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a problem faced by women in their reproductive age. It is characterized by potential abdominal fat deposition. Weight loss greatly reduces this effect .
Fertility is also enhanced in such cases due to hormonal changes initiated by weight loss. In general weight loss seems to increase fertility in women.
A 3 months randomized control trial with 90 PCOS women illustrated this effect. Participants were given Orlistat (anti-obesity drug) or metformin (anti-diabetic drug) along with lifestyle intervention in this study.
The observed ovulation rate was found to be 33.3% and 23.5% for the orlistat and metformin group respectively. Conception rate was 40%, 16.7% and 3.3% on the orlistat, metformin and control group respectively.
A study highlights the effect of weight loss prior to fertility treatment. This study shows moderate weight loss is effective in increasing ovulation and fertilization rate.
Data analysis from 2 studies comparing normal treatment and diet-induced weight loss treatment for PCOS further illustrated this effect.
In one study 187 obese PCOS women were treated with clomiphene (drug stimulating ovulation) and another study had 142 women treated with low calorie diet-induced weight loss.
The clomiphene group had 44.7% ovulation rate as compared to 62% of the weight loss group. Live birth rate was 10.2% in the clomiphene group and 25% in the weight loss group.
What does this mean?
These evidences clearly demonstrate the role of weight loss in PCOS and infertility treatment. The hormonal changes induced by weight loss seem to trigger an increased ovulation, thus increasing the fertility.
5.Weight loss helps reduces blood pressure and hypertension
One of the major health benefits of weight loss is lowering of blood pressure. Obesity is associated with high blood pressure which can lead to coronary heart diseases.
5-10% of reduction in body weight lowers this obesity associated high blood pressure and hence the coronary heart disease risk.
Exercise or diet induced weight loss is recommended for reducing high blood pressure and hypertension. Diet fares better than exercise in reducing blood pressure.
8.5 and 6.5mmHg reduction of systolic and diastolic pressure is due to a 8kg weight loss. A combination of exercise and weight loss further reduced the pressure to 12.5 and 5.9mm Hg respectively.
Analysis of data from 8 studies with 2100 individuals showed a 4kg body weight reduction coupled with 4.5mmHg and 3.0mmHg systolic and diastolic blood pressure reduction respectively.
Another analysis of 4 studies showed the anti-obesity drug orlisat led to reduction in blood pressure. It showed 4 kg weight loss in 6 months coupled with 2.5 mm Hg and 2.0mm Hg reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure respectively.
Another trial with stage 1 and stage 2 hypertension patients showed the enhanced potential of blood pressure reduction by both exercise and weight loss. Exercise alone caused 4mm Hg reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Exercise coupled with weight loss enhanced this to 7 and 5 mm Hg reduction of systolic and diastolic pressure respectively.
What does this mean?
Weight loss enhance the blood pressure profile by lowering high blood pressure ,thus reducing hypertension and coronary heart disease risk.
Gradual reduction of weight prevents potential health risks. In addition to improving aesthetic factors it helps in reducing metabolic risks and benefits various aspects of health. Gradual weight loss and weight maintenance can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.