Losing weight can do wonders for your health by decreasing the activity of immune system cells that promote inflammation. New research from Australia published in April suggests that even modest weight loss (in this case only about 13 pounds) can reverse damaging pro-inflammatory changes often seen in the immune cells of obese individuals. The investigators at Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research looked at 13 obese patients with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes who agreed to go on a diet of between 1,000 and 1,600 calories per day for 24 weeks. Halfway through the study the participants underwent gastric banding, a surgical procedure in which the stomach is cinched so that it can hold only a small amount of food. At the study's end, the researchers found an 80 percent reduction in the overall number of pro-inflammatory cells, as well as decreased activation of immune cells in the body fat of their subjects. This changed the pro-inflammatory nature of circulating immune cells back to that found in lean people, the team reported.
My take? We know that weight loss can positively affect many aspects of health, particularly type 2 diabetes and its consequences including heart disease. Excess weight is also implicated in many cancers and other diseases. These new findings are very interesting because they illustrate that the health dangers posed by obesity may be reduced by even modest weight loss. But this was a rather small study, so we’ll have to see whether future research confirms these encouraging results.