- A new study finds that the success of weight-loss methods depends on your starting body weight.
- Of the groups studied, people with obesity benefited the most from all weight-loss methods, gaining the least weight afterward and lowering their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- However, people who are already lean when they lose weight may weigh more than they did when they started.
A new observational study from researchers at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston explores associations between weight-loss methods and regaining weight, as well as the subsequent risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).
The study found that outcomes depended on a person’s weight at the outset of weight loss.
People were categorized according to Body Mass Index (BMI) as obese — with a BMI equal to or greater than 30 — overweight (a BMI of 25–30), or lean (a BMI of less than 25.) Within these categories, they compared people who intentionally used weight-loss strategies to lose 4.5kg with those who did not attempt to lose weight.
The study included assessments of the following weight-loss strategies:
- low calorie diet
- exercise and low calorie diet
- commercial weight-loss program
Researchers also measured the outcomes for people using a combination of two or more methods, including fasting, commercial weight-loss programs, or pills — abbreviated as “FCP.”
All the studied weight-loss methods, except the pill and FCP, were effective for people with a BMI ≥30.
The study also found that among people with obesity, those who lost 4.5kg intentionally, regardless of weight-loss strategy, gained less weight over four years and had a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes over 24 years than those who did not attempt weight loss.
For people with a 25–30 BMI, associations of weight-loss strategies and eventually regained weight and diabetes risk were more complex.
Except for those who used exercise, people with a BMI
Dr. Mir Ali, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, not involved in the study, told Medical News Today:
“These findings are surprising because it would seem that weight loss would be beneficial for everyone. Based on this study, lean individuals seem to have a different biological makeup.”
The study appears in the journal PLOS Medicine.