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A Little Loss Weighs Up to a Lot

A Little Loss Weighs Up to a Lot

When it comes to losing weight, a little bit can mean a lot. A modest weight loss of 5% to 10% of body weight can lower blood pressure and provide other health benefits even to very obese people, according to an article in the May issue of journal Obesity Research.

However, patients don't always listen when their doctors try to give them that message. If a patient weighs 130kg and then loses 13kg, their doctor says "That's great. You've lost 10% of your weight and reduced your blood pressure", says Arthur Frank, MD, medical director of the weight management program at George Washington University in Washington. But the patient says, "I still weigh 117kg!" In the article, Ilse L. Mertens and Luc F. Van Gaal, of the department of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Antwerp in Belgium, examined a number of studies that looked at the effect of modest weight loss on blood pressure and other health problems.

In one such study, a group of high blood pressure patients all discontinued their medication; one group made no other changes while the other group lost nearly 3.6kg. At the end of the study, nearly two-thirds of the high blood pressure patients who lost weight still had normal blood pressure. "A modest weight loss significantly reduced the risk for high blood pressure", the authors write. "These results suggest that, in adults and in the elderly, modest weight loss is an effective therapy for the treatment of hypertension. That's a message that more doctors need to spread," says Frank. "We have to reinforce the value of a modest weight loss". Cultural pressures have prevented many obese patients from considering the value of even a small weight loss, according to the authors of the study. The authors point out that patients often have unrealistic expectations about their ideal weights. Even losing 5% to 10% of your body weight and maintaining the loss, will have a continuing positive effect on one's health and wellbeing!

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