Losing weight cuts your risk of heart attacks and type 2 diabetes – even if you put it back on, researchers say
Losing weight can cut the chances of heart attacks and type 2 diabetes — even if you put some of it back on.
Oxford University researchers found those who shed the pounds still enjoyed health benefits five years later, even if they regained a proportion of the weight.
Weight loss programmes — such as the NHS soup and shake diet — can help people lose and maintain a healthy weight by encouraging lifestyle changes.
But regaining some weight when the help and advice stops is common.
Scientists wanted to test whether the subsequent health benefits of losing weight, such as reduced blood pressure, continued after the interventions finished.
Oxford University researchers found those who shed the pounds still enjoyed health benefits five years later
They combined the results of 124 studies involving more than 50,000 participants who had taken part in diet or exercise interventions such as meal replacements, intermittent fasting, or had been offered financial incentives to lose weight.
Participants were an average age 51 years old, with a body mass index of 33, which is considered obese.
On average, people lost between 5 and 10 pounds (2-5kg) while weight regain was typically up to 0.7 pounds a year (0.32kg).
Compared to those in a less intensive program and those in no weight loss program, participants who lost weight through an intensive weight loss program had lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
These lower risk factors lasted for at least five years after the weight loss program ended, according to the findings published in the American Heart Association journal.
Those who lost weight were found to have lower systolic blood pressure – pressure in the arteries when the heart beats – and lower levels of ‘bad’ high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Levels of HbA1c, a protein in red blood cells used to test for diabetes, was reduced by 0.26 per cent at both one and five years after participation in an intensive weight loss program, researchers found.
This suggests the decreased risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes also appeared to remain lower even after weight regain, they said.
Professor Susan Jebb, of the University of Oxford and co-author of the study, said: ‘For people with overweight or obesity issues, losing weight is an effective way to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.’
She added: ‘Our findings should provide reassurance that weight loss programs are effective in controlling cardiovascular risk factors and very likely to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.’
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide