How much weight loss is needed to improve health?

May 14, 2024

In a world where health is increasingly in the spotlight, the quest for optimal well-being often circles back to one crucial aspect: weight. But how much weight do you really need to lose to make a tangible difference in your health? Let’s delve into the science behind weight loss and its impact on your overall well-being.


The amount of weight one needs to lose for health benefits varies from person to person and depends on several factors, including age, gender, height, muscle mass, and existing health conditions. However, even modest weight loss can yield significant health improvements.


And a quick reminder of how important this is:


  1. **Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases:** Excess weight is closely linked to a host of chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and certain cancers.


  1. **Improved Heart Health:** Weight loss can lead to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, and reduced inflammation, all of which contribute to better heart health and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.


  1. **Enhanced Glucose Control:** Shedding pounds can increase insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to regulate blood sugar levels. This is particularly important for individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.


  1. **Better Mobility and Joint Health:** Carrying excess weight puts added stress on your joints, leading to pain and reduced mobility. Losing weight can alleviate this strain, resulting in improved joint function and reduced risk of conditions like osteoarthritis.


  1. **Enhanced Mental Well-being:** Weight loss isn’t just about physical health; it can also have a profound impact on mental well-being. Many people experience increased self-confidence, improved mood, and reduced feelings of anxiety or depression after losing weight.


How should I set my weight loss targets?

Losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight can substantially lower your risk of developing these diseases. This is a number that scientific research has shown makes an impact on health. Obviously the more the better for most people. 

How do you know what 5% is? It’s worth knowing this number: people often assume that it's more than it actually is.

Use the following calculation to work out your goal:

What is often more useful to me as a doctor is where this fat is stored – so I know that the harmful fat is the visceral fat; this is the fat around the organs. This is the fat that’s linked to developing chornic disease such as diabetes. And what’s the best way of knowing this – well it’s you waist circumference. This number is by far the most useful metric to know, as decreases here are what matters to health.

Here's a guide:

While the amount of weight needed to improve health varies from person to person, even modest weight loss can lead to significant benefits for both physical and mental well-being. By adopting healthy habits and making sustainable lifestyle changes, you can embark on a journey toward better health and a happier, more fulfilling life.

Remember, it’s not just about the number on the scale—it’s about nurturing your body and prioritizing your well-being 

Dr Nerys Frater

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