New UK research finds the odds are stacked against an obese person on their quest to lose weight.
Researchers from King’s College London discovered the chance of an obese person attaining normal body weight is one in 210 for men and one in 124 for women. Regrettably, the odds increase to one in 1,290 for men and one in 677 for women with severe obesity.
Study findings appear in the American Journal of Public Health, with investigators suggesting that current weight management programs focused on dieting and exercise are not effective in tackling obesity at population level.
The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), tracked the weight of 278,982 participants (129,194 men and 149,788) women using electronic health records from 2004 to 2014.
The study looked at the probability of obese patients attaining normal weight or a five percent reduction in body weight. Patients who received bariatric surgery were excluded from the study.
A minimum of three body mass index (BMI) records per patient was used to estimate weight changes.
The annual chance of obese patients achieving five percent weight loss was one in 12 for men and one in 10 for women. For those people who achieved five percent weight loss, 53 percent regained this weight within two years and 78 percent had regained the weight within five years.
Overall, only 1,283 men and 2,245 women with a BMI of 30-35 reached their normal body weight.
Many participants displayed a yo-yo pattern of weight loss followed by weight gain. Specifically, the weight cycling was also observed in more than a third of patients. As a results, investigators conclude that current obesity treatments are failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients.
According to first author, Dr Alison Fildes: “Losing five to 10 percent of your body weight has been shown to have meaningful health benefits and is often recommended as a weight loss target. These findings highlight how difficult it is for people with obesity to achieve and maintain even small amounts of weight loss.
“The main treatment options offered to obese patients in the UK are weight management programs accessed via their GP. This evidence suggests the current system is not working for the vast majority of obese patients.
“Once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight. New approaches are urgently needed to deal with this issue.
“Obesity treatments should focus on preventing overweight and obese patients gaining further weight, while also helping those that do lose weight to keep it off. More importantly, priority needs to be placed on preventing weight gain in the first place.”
Professor Martin Gulliford, said: “Current strategies to tackle obesity, which mainly focus on cutting calories and boosting physical activity, are failing to help the majority of obese patients to shed weight and maintain that weight loss.
“The greatest opportunity for stemming the current obesity epidemic is in wider-reaching public health policies to prevent obesity in the population.”
Source: Kings College London/EurekAlert