The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
Health Benefits of Weight Loss
The recommendations to treat overweight and obesity are based on two rationales. First, overweight and obesity are associated with an increased risk of disease and death, as previously discussed.3,16,18 Second, randomized controlled trials have shown that weight loss (as modest as 5 to 15 percent of excess total body weight) reduces the risk factors for at least some diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, in the short term. Weight loss results in lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and improved lipid levels.38 While few published studies have examined the link between weight loss and reduced disease or death in the long-term,39 current data as well as scientific plausibility suggest this link.
Studies have shown that reducing risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, lowers death rates from heart disease and stroke. Therefore, it is highly probable that weight loss that reduces these risk factors will reduce the number of deaths from heart disease and strokes. Trials examining the direct effects of weight loss on disease and death are currently under way.40,41 For example, one trial shows that weight loss, a healthful diet, and exercise prevent the development of type 2 diabetes among persons who are overweight or obese.42 The recently completed Diabetes Prevention Program from NIH also confirmed significant reductions in the risk for developing type 2 diabetes among obese subjects with impaired glucose tolerance through similar lifestyle interventions.43
Last revised: January 11, 2007