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An enormous number of short and long term health benefits can be achieved with even 5 - 10% weight loss although even greater health benefits can be achieved if enough weight can be lost to return from being overweight or obese to a healthy body mass index range.
High Blood Glucose (Prediabetes) is a condition that occurs when sugar levels in the blood are higher than normal but not high enough to be officially diagnosed as diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin in the amounts adequate to meet the body’s needs or the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly. People with prediabetes are at significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes down the track.
Being overweight or obese is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Carrying excess weight makes it difficult for cells to respond to insulin, because the extra fat acts like an insulating layer, making it harder for the sugar to move into cells and resulting in higher circulating blood sugar levels. Progression from prediabetes to diabetes is potentially preventable through weight loss and by maintaining a healthy weight. Studies have shown that weight loss of 7% and moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking for a total of 150 minutes weekly can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by up to 58% 1.
Complications of diabetes occur mainly due to poorly controlled high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Rates of chronic heart disease, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, blindness and amputations of lower limbs are all higher in type 2 diabetics (T2D) than in non-T2D patients all as a direct result of damage caused to blood vessels by high sugar levels.
Two of the major risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Studies indicate that the accumulation of excess body fat releases certain naturally occurring chemicals into the bloodstream that causes blood pressure to rise and being overweight causes the liver to produce excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol.
LDL (low density lipoprotein, sometimes called “bad cholesterol”) tends to be sticky and lines or accumulates in the walls of blood vessels leading to narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
As weight is lost, blood pressure often diminishes and the amount of LDL the liver produces is reduced. Results from a Royal Adelaide Hospital study on cardiovascular improvements with weight loss using KicStart™, showed a 10% reduction in LDL levels, a 12% reduction in total cholesterol, an 8% reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 5% reduction in diastolic blood pressure 1.
Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the airway, obstructing air movement and creating the characteristic “snore”. Overweight people tend to have more soft tissue in the neck which increases the incidence of snoring. Snoring can be a symptom of a potentially life-threatening condition called sleep apnoea - where breathing becomes completely obstructed and requires the sleeper to awaken to begin breathing again.
A person with sleep apnoea wakes many times a night but often remembers nothing about these episodes. The detrimental health effects of the resulting sleep and oxygen deprivation include a compromised immune system, heart disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction, and memory problems.
Losing weight reduces the amount of fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decreases snoring. Maintaining a healthy weight encourages better quality sleep and reduces the risk of developing sleep apnoea. A longitudinal study in the US wa conducted to measure how weight change affected the severity of sleep apnoea. They found a 10% weight loss predicted a 26% decrease in the number of apnoea events per hour 1. A large randomized study on the effects of weight loss on sleep apnoea in obese patients with type 2 diabetes found that those who lost weight were three times more likely to nearly eliminate the number of sleep apnea episodes compared to those who did not lose weight2. Participants with a weight loss of 10 kg or more had the greatest reductions in sleep apnoea episodes per hour.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common joint disorder causing bone and cartilage (the tissue that protects the joints) to wear away1. As a result, the joints become swollen and tender and movement becomes very painful. Being overweight increases the load placed on the weight bearing joints eg knees & hips. It is estimated that a force of between three to six times your body weight is exerted across the knee while walking so an increase in body weight of 10 kg increases the force on the knees equivalent to carrying an extra 30 to 60 kgs2.
Even a loss of just 5 % of body weight can decrease the amount of stress on knees, hips, and lower back, and reduce pain. (Remember a 5kg loss would equate to 15 to 30kgs less force on the knees). Wheras a loss of 10% of body weight has shown a 28% improvement in symptoms of knee osteoarthritis3.
The physical health benefits of attaining and sustaining a healthy weight are well known but what often surprises people are the psychological benefits. Studies have shown that weight loss appears to greatly enhance quality of life1 and is associated with increased self-esteem and lower rates of depression2 .
Epidemiological evidence clearly shows that being obese has an adverse effect on reproduction 1,2. The mechanisms underlying the relationship between obesity and infertility are unclear but it has been suggested that carrying excess body fat can cause disturbances in sex hormone metabolism that produce menstrual disturbances and thus subfertility 3,4.