Lose Weight, Gain Tons of Benefits
Taking off just 10% of your body weight can have a big impact on your health.
A little goes a long way when it comes to weight loss. Research has shown
that losing 10% of your body weight -- or less – can have big payoffs for your
Such a small loss may not seem like much if you're trying to look svelte in
your jeans. But in terms of your health, it can be a big victory.
With more than 60% of Americans classified as overweight or obese, most of
us would benefit from trimming down.
''Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk for the
development of a multitude of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart
disease, and more,'' says David Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University's
Prevention Research Center and of the Yale Preventive Medicine Center.
But lose a few pounds and you can start to turn your health around,
according to several studies.
''Lifestyle changes that include healthier diets, regular physical activity,
and weight loss of 7%-10% have shown phenomenal health benefits that can be
more effective than medications,'' says Katz, author of the best-selling book
What to Eat.
Lowering body weight can reverse or prevent diabetes; lower blood pressure,
cholesterol, and triglyceride levels; and improve sleep apnea and other sleep
problems -- along with helping you feel better about yourself.
According to Katz, 90% of all diabetes, 80% of heart disease, and 60% of
cancers are preventable with healthier lifestyles and normal body weights.
''We have seen a consistent pattern in our weight loss studies that when
patients lose 5%-10% of their body weight, they lower blood pressure, reduce
LDL ["bad"] cholesterol, improve glucose tolerance, and in general,
lower the risk for cardiovascular disease," says Catherine Champagne, a
researcher with Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research
Some doctors have reported that they have successfully taken patients off
blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications after the patients lost
small amounts of weight, Champagne says.
Are You an 'Apple?’
Losing a little weight can be especially beneficial for people who store
their excess weight in their abdomens, rather than in their hips. This ‘apple’
pattern of weight distribution means you're at greater risk for heart disease
-- but it also means you should have an easier time losing the weight, and thus
reversing the risk, experts say.
''Depending on where you store the excess weight, there are some people who
show dramatic health improvements with as little as a 2% weight loss,'' says
Fat stored in the waist and in the liver is more metabolically active, which
makes it more of a trigger for heart disease, but also easier to lose, he
To find out if you're apple-shaped, Katz suggests measuring your waist. He
recommends seeing your doctor if your waist circumference is above 34 inches
for women, and 40 inches for men.