Keeping your weight under control is the best way to prevent chronic diseases associated with obesity, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. However, we must be careful, because losing weight is not always healthy. If people already of normal weight lose weight, they risk increasing the chances of gaining weight in the long term and getting type 2 diabetes. This is supported by a study published in Plos Medicinewhich followed the weight loss of people of different weights (some thin, some overweight or obese) for a period of 24 years.
It is estimated that, on average, the risk of getting diabetes is reduced by 16% for every kilogram of weight lost in overweight or obese individuals. Following a weight loss diet has become a common practice in modern society, often very widespread even in those who are not overweight and do not suffer from obesity. For this reason, the researchers included, in their study, even people who were already thin before embarking on the weight loss process. In order for it to be healthy, the loss of extra pounds must be maintained over time.
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It is precisely this goal that is the most difficult to pursue, and its success also depends on the weight loss method that is undertaken. In the study, the researchers considered seven different weight loss channels: low-calorie diet, exercise, low-calorie diet plus exercise, fasting (scheduled or choosing to skip meals), commercial weight loss programs, diet pills, and finally a combination of fasting, commercial program and diet pills (gathered in the acronym FCP). The aim was to understand how weight loss affects the long-term predisposition to gain weight or get type 2 diabetes.
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The researchers collected data on about 200,000 people from three large prospective studies conducted in the United States between 1988 and 2017. The subjects ranged in age from 24 to 78 and were predominantly female. The analysis considered people of normal weight, overweight and obese who had lost at least 4.5 kilos according to any of the methods written above, and their health conditions were compared with those of people who had not faced any weight loss path. Their weight trends were followed for about ten years after weight loss, while the onset of type 2 diabetes was monitored for up to 24 years later.
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Losing weight if you are obese
After 24 years, the risk of diabetes was reduced for subjects suffering from obesity, regardless of the strategy used, even if those who chose physical exercise as a method had better results (21% less risk) than those who took diet pills (13% less risk). For overweight subjects, on the other hand, the benefits of weight loss were slightly attenuated in the long run: the risk of type 2 diabetes decreased by 9% in those who lost weight by exercising, while it even increased by 42% in those who used it. of diet pills.
Don’t lose weight if you are already thin
A completely different picture emerged if those who were losing those four and a half kilos were already thin people. In the long run, in fact, these people risked gaining more weight than those who did not decide to lose weight, and the risk of getting type 2 diabetes also increased.
What is the healthiest way to lose weight
From the results, it was clear that the consequences on the body of the different methods of weight loss, both in terms of weight change and diabetes risk, depend on the body weight before the diet. Losing weight, for those starting from a condition of obesity, is so beneficial for the body that any strategy is fine, as long as you lose the extra pounds. And in general, for these people the positive effect is maintained over the long term: according to the results, the risk of gaining weight again in the following 4 years was low and that of getting type 2 diabetes also decreased during the 24 years. subsequent.
Exercise – the most effective
Of all the possible methods, however, physical exercise has always proved to be the most effective and healthy in the long run. For thin subjects, on the other hand, further weight loss was associated with an increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes of 9% for those who exercised and 54% for those who took diet pills or chose the combined FCP method.
In any case, the authors of the research conclude, if you want to embark on a path of weight loss it is better to put aside the do-it-yourself and pills that promise miracles and be followed by doctors who are expert in the evaluation of the need, the benefits and in the planning of the suitable strategies.
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