How Even A Small Weight Reduction Can Yield Big Health Benefits

Portrait of a happy young woman lifting weights over colored background

(DGIwire) — According to the Endocrine Society, over 75% of American adults are overweight, obese or extremely obese. In addition, almost 23% of adults are considered to have metabolic syndrome.

Overweight is defined as having a BMI of 25-30, obese as a BMI of 30-40 and extremely obese as a BMI of 40 or higher. Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more abnormal values in waist circumference, triglycerides, HDL- cholesterol, blood pressure or glucose.

Both conditions are linked to poor health, chronic disease and lower productivity. The cost burden of these conditions is huge and continues to rise. Also, the patients with these conditions spend more on medical care than their normal weight counterparts. It is estimated that 27% of the overall growth in per-capita healthcare spending between 1987-2001 was attributable to the increase in obesity alone.

The good news is that researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a weight loss of just 5% markedly lowered risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and improved metabolic function in liver, fat and muscle tissue.

Current guidelines call for a 5-10% weight loss but this study gives overweight people an easier weight-loss target that will provide significant benefits. The researcher found that the first 5% offered the “biggest bang for your buck” when compared to even greater losses of 10-15% of bodyweight although additional improvements were noted as weight loss increased.

“Improvements in health and overall wellbeing continue to improve the closer one gets to their ideal weight. As excess fat is lost, there is less and less stress on all aspects of bodily functions — the heart and circulation, joints, cleansing organs…everything. Goal setting is critical because weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. Setting realistic goals is paramount to success. Most people can easily imagine losing 5% of their current weight which opens the mind to set a new lower and consequently healthier goal,” according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise rules in the Dust.

Overweight people have higher markers of inflammation that has been identified as a possible cause of chronic disease. Losing weight has been shown to decrease inflammation and improve overall health.

Griesel adds, “It’s very important to differentiate between weight-loss and fat-loss which are often at odds when dieting. Excess fat is what needs to be eliminated. Muscle is actually a secretory organ whose secretome consists of several hundred peptides that communicate with other organs including our fat. This is why it is critical to preserve as much muscle mass as possible while losing weight. We have found that consistently performing a short routine of bodyweight exercises is all that is needed to ensure muscle mass retention. When lean body mass is maintained or even increased during weight loss, the beneficial effects are even greater.”