Even Just A 5 Percent Weight Loss Has Big Health Benefits

Good news for anyone who is obese and trying to get healthier: Losing just 5 percent of your body weight can lead to significant improvements in insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk of major health issues like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published Monday in the journal Cell Metabolism.

“Even though five percent weight loss may not have dramatic cosmetic benefits, it does have significant health benefits,” said the study’s author, Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine. “You’re much healthier on the inside, and it’s a really reasonable and legitimate target for people with obesity.”

This study clarifies conventional wisdom among obesity experts, who have traditionally advised patients to lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight in order to improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. But as anyone who has ever tried to lose weight can attest, there is a big difference between 5 percent and 10 percent.

“That’s a very vague, wide range,” Klein said. “It’s much harder to achieve a 10 percent weight loss than it is to achieve a five percent weight loss.”

Klein said his study shows that even just a little bit of weight loss is enough to improve health, and that people who can’t go beyond 5 percent shouldn’t feel like they failed.

As part of the study, Klein recruited 40 obese men and women for a randomized controlled trial of health outcomes at weight losses of 5, 10 and 15 percent. He randomly assigned half of participants to weight loss and the others to weight maintenance, and found that people who lost five percent of their weight had a loss of about eight percent in body fat mass, a seven percent decrease —> Read More