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Even modest weight loss might boost heart health in women

Monday December 30, 2013
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Modest weight loss over two years in overweight or obese middle-aged women may reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, according to a study.

In a study of 417 women participating in weight loss programs for up to 24 months, those who sustained a 10% or greater loss of their body weight for two years reduced their total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, glucose and inflammation markers.

Women who had the highest levels of risk at the start of the study benefited the most from modest weight loss, researchers reported Dec. 18 on the website of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“It is challenging to lose weight, but if women commit to losing 10% of their body weight and sustain that over time, it can have a large impact on overall risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes,” Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, co-author, professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and director of the University of Arizona Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention & Health Promotion in Tucson, said in a news release.

The women, an average age of 44 and weighing nearly 200 pounds at the start of the study, were recruited within the communities of the University of California, San Diego, University of Minnesota, University of Arizona and Kaiser Permanente Center Northwest in Portland, Ore.

Factors that may affect creeping weight gain in middle-aged women include sedentary jobs, repeated pregnancy and the transition to menopause. A large percentage of middle-aged American women find themselves weighing much more in their 40s than they weighed in their teens, Thomson said.

Women in short-term weight loss programs usually do better with weight loss in the first six months and then start to rebound, the researchers said.

“Our study revealed the need for healthcare providers to provide women with longer-term support for weight control,” Thomson said. “It seems to pay off in terms of modifying risk factors for obesity-related disease.

“The good news is that when you lose weight long-term, you just don’t move to a smaller dress size; you are actually moving these risk factors markedly and likely reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.”

Study: http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/2/6/e000152.full


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