Washington: The loss of 20 pounds can help overweight or obese
individuals secure a decade's worth of health benefits, even if
they regain the weight later that decade, according to a new
Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown
University's Alpert Medical School, referred to her work from the
Diabetes Prevention Programme, a study of 3,000 overweight people,
who were motivated to change their behaviour rather than given
It showed that even modest weight loss, an average of 14 pounds,
reduced people's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
The benefits of this weight loss lasted up to 10 years, even if
people gained the weight back over this time, said Wing, according
to a university statement.
Participants practiced basic behavioural strategies to help them
lose weight, including tracking everything they ate and reducing
the amount of unhealthy foods they kept in their home, she said.
They also met with coaches frequently and increased their physical
activity over the course of the study.
"Helping people find ways to change their eating and activity
behaviours and developing interventions other than medication to
reinforce a healthy lifestyle have made a huge difference in
preventing one of the major health problems in this country," Wing
"Weight losses of just 10 percent of a person's body weight (or
about 20 pounds in those who weigh 200 pounds) have also been
shown to have a long-term impact on sleep apnea, hypertension and
quality of life, and to slow the decline in mobility that occurs
as people age," added Wing.
Wing is leading a 13-year trial of 5,000 people with Type 2
diabetes. This study is testing whether an intensive behavioural
intervention can decrease the risk of heart disease and heart
"We are trying to show that behaviour changes not only make people
healthier in terms of reducing heart disease risk factors but
actually can make them live longer," she said.
These findings were presented at the American Psychological
Association's 120th Annual Convention.