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Weight Loss and Your Health (online only)
June 2010
By Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN

How much weight does an overweight person have to lose in order to achieve any health benefit?

A: Even modest loss, without necessarily getting down to a weight targeted in healthy weight charts, can bring health benefits if you maintain that loss.  Research consistently shows that a five to seven percent weight loss – 10 to 14 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds – is enough to lower blood pressure, reduce risk of diabetes and substantially improve blood sugar and insulin levels in those who already have diabetes.  In the Diabetes Prevention Program study, small weight loss decreased risk of diabetes. HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels have been shown to increase, thus reducing heart disease risk, with losses of 15 to 30 pounds. In addition, overweight people generally report that even modest weight loss makes a difference in their breathing, joint pain and ability to get around.  So don’t hold yourself back with overly ambitious goals:  Target a few changes you need to reach a modest loss and then focus on maintaining that new weight.  Then you can decide if you want to make further changes to go another step lower in weight, again focusing on maintaining whatever loss you achieve.


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