If you’re overweight, losing 10 percent of your weight (20 pounds if you weigh in at 200) may cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you regain the pounds you shed within a decade. This finding comes from a national study that included 3,000 overweight people with impaired glucose tolerance, a metabolic condition that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Results showed that losing an average of only 14 pounds reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. During the weight-loss phase of the study, participants tracked what they ate daily as part of the behavioral changes they were taught. They also limited the amount of unhealthy foods they kept at home and increased their physical activity. Study leader Rena Wing, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Brown University Medical School, reported that in addition to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, weight loss can lead to reductions in sleep apnea and normalizing blood pressure, as well as improving participants’ quality of life and slowing the decline of mobility with age. The study data and conclusions were presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in August 2012.
My take? Considering that so many people who succeed at losing weight regain it within a few years, the extended health benefits of weight loss suggested in this study are welcome news. Not everyone can be slim. Your weight and tendency to gain weight are partly determined by your genes, but no matter what you weigh, it's in your best interest to remain physically fit and active. Committing to living a healthful lifestyle will minimize the chance that being heavy will shorten your life, and can help reduce your risks of chronic disease.