Greater than one in three Americans are obese. Obesity is a looming risk factor for a variety of diseases, two diseases being type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These health problems stem from a wide range of underlying medical abnormalities that affect the liver, pancreas, muscle, fat, and other tissues.
Current treatment guidelines suggest a 5% to 10% weight reduction in people that are overweight or obese to bring about any noticeable improvements in health. Team leader, Dr. Samuel Klein, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and his team studied the metabolic benefits of a 5% weight-loss in obese subjects. NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), and other NIH constituents funded this study.
The scientists randomly assigned 40 sedentary people with obesity to maintain their body weight or to go on a diet to lose 5% of their body weight, followed by targets of 10% and 15%. Participants averaged 44 years of age with a body mass index (BMI) of 38 (average weight of about 235 pounds). The participants did not smoke or have diabetes. The findings appeared online on February 22, 2016, in Cell Metabolism (Torgan, 2016).
Subjects in the weight-loss group ate a low-calorie diet: 50%-55% of the energy supplied was in the form of carbohydrate, 30% as fat, and 15%-20% as protein. Participants were provided with weekly diets and behavioral education sessions.
Nineteen individuals reached the initial target range of 5% weight-loss, an average of 12 pounds, after about 3 ½ months. The researchers discovered that this crew had greatly decreased body fat, which included the abdominal fat and fat in the liver. Moreover, they had decreased blood plasma levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and leptin, which are the telltale risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. These individuals showed an improved function of insulin-secreting beta cells found in the pancreas, as well as increased sensitivity of fat, liver, and muscle tissue to insulin.
Biomarkers of inflammation are increased in people with obesity. However, the scientists found no changes in systemic or fat tissue biomarkers of inflammation with subjects having a 5% weight-loss.
Nine individuals reached the succeeding targets having reached an approximate weight loss of 11% in about seven months and a 16% weight-loss at about 10 months. The decreases in fat mass, blood plasma insulin, leptin, and triglyceride concentrations continued in concert with the weight-loss. Continued improvements in beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity in muscle was seen in these individuals. Insulin sensitivity in the liver and fat tissue was not significant with weight-loss greater than 5%.
“Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5% weight loss,” Klein says. “If you weigh 200 pounds, you will be doing yourself a favor if you can lose 10 pounds and keep it off. You don’t have to lose 50 pounds to get important health benefits.”
This study did not ascertain whether these effects are maintained for further periods. More research is needed to determine if individuals with diabetes have the same types and patterns of metabolic adjustment following increasing weight-loss as in this study.
Torgan, C. (2016, March 3). Benefits of moderate weight loss in people with obesity. Retrieved March 17, 2016, from NIH RESEARCH MATTERS: http://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/benefits-moderate-weight-loss-people-obesity
Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Magkos F, Fraterrigo G, Yoshino J, Luecking C, Kirbach K, Kelly SC, de Las Fuentes L, He S, Okunade AL, Patterson BW, Klein S. Cell Metab. 2016 Feb 22. pii: S1550-4131(16)30053-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 26916363.
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