In a new study, German researchers debate how much weight loss is needed for obese people to significantly lower their cardiometabolic risks long term.
We know from previous research that a weight ‘reset’ can greatly help to reduce heart disease-related complications and the incidence of type 2 diabetes among obese people. Scientists believe that the body starts to repair itself and reverse metabolic derangements as the weight falls.
Experts from the Medical Clinic IV of Tübingen University Hospital and colleagues tried to identify early weight loss thresholds at which these beneficial changes start to appear.
Specifically, they’ve looked at weight setting targets through the lens of the much debated, so-called ‘metabolically healthy obesity’ phenotype.
This theory says that it is possible to have high adiposity and body mass indexes (BMI) while having relatively normal metabolic markers and a low risk of developing conditions such as heart disease or stroke.
The new research, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinolgy journal, questions whether the 5-8 per cent weight loss rate recommended by some medical associations is at all sufficient to lower these risks.
The researchers estimate that about 70 per cent of obese people fall into the metabolically abnormal obesity category, which is characteristic of having one or more of the following: dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, fatty liver or abdominal obesity.
Based on their data from the Tübingen Lifestyle Intervention Study, they suggest that a weight loss of no more than 10 per cent with an average BMI of 30 may be sufficient to switch from having a high cardiometabolic risk to being reclassified in the metabolically healthy obesity category and only have a moderate risk.
In other words, achieving a 10 per cent weight loss could allow these people to get out of the danger zone, so to speak.
Furthermore, they found that, at 20 per cent weight loss (when BMI goes down to 25 or less), obese people could reach the cut-off point where the lowest risks are seen.
To put this into perspective, according to researchers, people who are obese and metabolically unhealthy have a 150 percent higher risk of adverse health consequences compared to healthy people with a normal weight. They believe this risk drops to only 25 per cent when the initial BMI is reduced by just 10 per cent. However, more research would be needed to confirm this.
Overall, this study defines an achievable intermediate goal to reach a healthier weight that could help motivate unsuccessful obese dieters looking to lower their cardiometabolic risks.

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