Obesity or morbid obesity have little chance of being reversed unless new approaches are considered, notes a King’s College London study.
Once a person reaches obesity, the chances that they will go back to normal weight are slim. The myriad implications of obesity on overall health have been discussed in many studies before. Notably, quite a number of the diagnoses stemming from obesity are deadly.
So what do the numbers say? According to the study findings, only one men in 210 obese men successfully slim down to normal weight. For women, only one in 124 make it to their pre-obese weight.
For morbid obese people, the statistics look even more dire. One out of 1,290 men and one out of 677 women are able to regain their normal weight.
The King College London study, featuring in the American Journal of Public Health suggests that these alarming numbers should pinpoint the need for more aggressive approaches that go beyond mere diet and exercise tips and tricks usually included in lifestyle therapies.
Shedding weight to go from obese or morbidly obese requires different strategies. Dr. Alison Fildes, co-author of the study, stated:
“Once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight”.
The numbers cited above were obtained after the health records of 278,982 participants were tracked over a period of 10 years between 2004 and 2014. Particularly, the researchers looked at how each individual reduced their body weight over this period. The markers were set from 5 percent reduction of body weight to reducing body weight until a normal weight is reached.
A 5 percent reduction in body weight was the relatively easy task. It resulted in a success rate of 1 in 12 men and 1 in 10 women losing this much. However, within a five year timeframe, they had regained the 5 percent.
The yoyo effect was prevalent in all categories, with very few participants managing to reach the healthy and normal weight.
The interpretation of these results should lead to the adoption of different strategies, approaches and treatments for obesity and morbid obesity. According to Fildes,
“The findings highlight how difficult it is for people with obesity to achieve and maintain even small amounts of weight loss. The current system of weight loss is not working for the vast majority of obese patients”.
Of course, this is not to say that dieting and exercise are in any way obsolete in treating and preventing obesity. And while some obese patients may undergo bariatric surgery, for a high number this possibility is out of reach.
Perhaps the focus should indeed change from treating to preventing obesity.
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