Losing weight and keeping it off linked to cardiometabolic benefits

Maintaining weight loss is associated with more favorable heart disease, stroke, and diabetes risk factors compared to regaining weight after three years.


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Excess body weight is a major modifiable cause of morbidity and mortality. Behavioral lifestyle weight-loss interventions are an effective noninvasive strategy to achieve weight loss and improve cardiometabolic risk factors.

Shedding light on this, a new study by the Tufts University suggests that people who lose weight and keep it off can stabilize or even improve their cardiometabolic risk factors compared to people who regain the weight.

Following an effective one-year intensive lifestyle weight-loss intervention, maintaining the weight loss (as opposed to regaining it) was better for all cardiometabolic hazard components surveyed three years later, including HDL cholesterol, triglyceride, fasting glucose and glycated hemoglobin concentrations, blood pressure, and waist circumference.

Alice H. Lichtenstein, a nutrition scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, said, “Regaining weight was associated with a reversal of the benefits seen from losing weight. If you lose weight and maintain the weight loss for a long period, so the benefits continue? The answer is yes, and sometimes the benefits get even stronger. If you lose weight and don’t maintain it, the benefits are diminished or disappear. These findings emphasize the dual importance of not only achieving a healthy body weight but maintaining a healthy body weight.”

“What we need to focus on now is how we can support not only healthy approaches to losing weight but healthy approaches to helping those who are successful in losing weight maintain the weight loss. The latter may be the most challenging.”

Scientists also determined the point distinguishing ‘maintaining’ from ‘regaining’ and at what percentage the cardiometabolic risk benefits of weight loss were diminished, but found no clear point of demarcation.

Few studies directly compare individuals with successful weight loss maintenance (maintainers) and individuals who regained the weight as no standardized definition for successful weight-loss maintenance exists.

The data for the study was gathered from the Look AHEAD trial, a multicenter controlled clinical trial assessing the association between weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk in individuals with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on Oct. 9.