Health experts have always warned us to keep obesity at bay. The reasons being, it can cause diabetes, heart trouble, high blood pressure and many health problems. But if these reasons aren’t adequate for you to stay fit and in shape, here’s another reason that may come as a bit of a shocker.
A new study of UK health records by King’s College, London, says that the chances of obese people losing weight and keeping it balanced are incredibly low. The researchers found that the chances that an obese person would return to normal weight were 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women.
The study excluded people who had had bariatric surgery, but because the chances of obese people attaining normal weight were so slim, it also looked at another factor – whether obese people who were trying to reduce their weight managed to achieve a 5% weight loss.
What was observed was that only 1 in 12 men and 1 in 10 women were able to achieve this (5% weight loss) within a year. And what’s even more alarming is that 53% of these people regained the weight lost within two years, and by three years 78% of this group had gained it back.
These findings suggest that the contemporary weight management programmes that focus on dieting and exercise are not helping when it comes to taking on obesity at a population level.
Dr. Alison Fildes, first author from the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King’s College London, said, “Losing 5 to 10% of your body weight has been shown to have meaningful health benefits and is often recommended as a weight loss target. These findings highlight how difficult it is for people with obesity to achieve and maintain even small amounts of weight loss. Once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight.”
Dr. Fildes thinks that treatments for obesity should centre on preventing people from gaining further weight in addition to helping them lose it. She adds, “Priority needs to be placed on preventing weight gain in the first place.”
“Current strategies to tackle obesity, which mainly focus on cutting calories and boosting physical activity, are failing to help the majority of obese patients to shed weight and maintain that weight loss,” said the study’s senior author, Professor Martin Gulliford, from the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King’s College London, in a press release. “The greatest opportunity for stemming the current obesity epidemic is in wider-reaching public health policies to prevent obesity in the population,” he added.
The research included data from 278,982 participants in total – 129,194 men and 149,788 women. Only 1,283 men and 2,245 women who had a BMI between 30 and 35 were able to achieve normal body weight. From those people whose BMI was over 40, only 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women were able to bring it back to normal range.
The research was supported by the UK National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research program, and is also published in the American Journal of Public Health.
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