Researchers studied 417 women participating in weight loss programs for up to two years. Those who sustained a loss of 10 percent or more of their body weight for two years reduced their total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, glucose and inflammation markers. Women with the highest risk benefitted the most from modest weight loss.
“It is challenging to lose weight, but if women commit to losing 10 percent of their body weight and sustain that over time, it can have a large impact on overall risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes,” said Cynthia A. Thomson, Ph.D., R.D., co-author and professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and director of the University of Arizona Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention & Health Promotion in Tucson.
The women, an average 44 years old and weighing nearly 200 pounds at the start of the study, were recruited from the communities of the University of California, San Diego; University of Minnesota; University of Arizona; and Kaiser Permanente Center Northwest in Portland, Ore.
Sedentary jobs, repeated pregnancy and the transition to menopause are factors leading to creeping weight gain in middle-aged women.
Women in short-term weight loss programs usually do better with weight loss in the first six months and then they start to rebound, researchers said.
“Our study revealed the need for healthcare providers to provide women with longer-term support for weight control. It seems to pay off in terms of modifying risk factors for obesity-related disease,” Thomson said.
“The good news is that when you lose weight long-term, you just don’t move to a smaller dress size, you are actually moving these risk factors markedly and likely reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes,” Thomson said.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
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