Ideally, healthy weight loss should be on every obese person’s to-do-list, but a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health reveals that this is near impossible to achieve with traditional dieting and exercising alone. The study shows the odds of a clinically obese person achieving normal weight without surgical interventions are just 1 in 210 for men in a given month. Women fared a little better; 1 in 124 in a given year. For those who are morbidly obese, the odds are even worse.
On the other hand, the study shows an initial positive effort by the participants: people in the study were successful in dropping 5% of their body weight. However they were not able to sustain it, nor were they able to achieve their weight goals. At least half of those who lost 5 percent of their body weight regained it within two years, and more than 78 percent regained it within five years. This is a clear indication that there is something wrong with traditional weight-loss strategies.
The study was based on analysis of more than 278,000 people from the UK’s Clinical Practice Research database, tracked between 2004 and 2014. The purpose of the study was to highlight the difficulty obese people face in trying to achieve sustained weight loss through diet and exercise alone. Dieting and exercise can work; it is just near impossible for obese patients. Oftentimes, weight cycling (frequent fluctuation in gaining and losing weight) was much more common than sustained weight loss. This has been shown to be even more taxing on the body than stable obesity.
While the findings may be bleak, it also emphasizes the importance of preventative measures for obesity. Part of the problem is that few obese Americans who are eligible for weight-loss medications or surgery actually do get those therapies. A more concerted effort needs to be made to educate the public on surgical treatments for obesity.