Intention to lose weight and mortality

06/22/05

When overweight people intentionally lose weight they may not necessarily be improving their long term survival. In a paper in this month's PLoS Medicine researchers from Finland studied a very large group of twins who had been questioned in 1977 on intention to lose weight and then followed up for 18 years. Excluding those who had illnesses, they found that in the overweight group who intended to lose weight there was a small but statistically significant increase in mortality compared with those that had stable weight or who gained weight. However, the actual number of people who died was small -268 only- and most people were only moderately overweight. So, as the authors caution, people who are very overweight or have weight-related illnesses should not be deterred from losing weight. What is needed is more research; as the authors say "the long-term effects of weight loss are complex, and they may be composed of oppositely operating effects with net results reflecting the balance between these effects." Most importantly perhaps public health efforts should be directed to prevent people becoming overweight in the first place.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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