The majority of obese people who try to lose weight fail, according to a new study.
Just over a quarter of people with obesity who had tried to lose weight succeeded in losing a significant amount a year later.
The new study, which is being presented at the European Obesity Congress in the Netherlands, looked at data on adults from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Researchers, led by Dr Marc Evans of Cardiff University Hospital, looked at information on 1,850 obese adults with an average age of 53, 79% of whom said they had tried to lose weight in the last year .
Most (72%) had tried dieting while others had also turned to exercise, had weight loss surgery, tried medication or used apps.
The researchers found that of those who had attempted to lose weight, 73.4% had not achieved “clinically meaningful” weight loss.
Those who underwent surgery were the most likely to have lost weight, with half losing at least 5% of their body weight.
Some 32% of those who used digital health apps lost weight and three in 10 who participated in a weight loss service lost weight.
Meanwhile, 30% of those who took medication or exercised lost a clinically significant amount of weight.
Only 28% of people who embarked on a calorie-controlled or restricted diet lost a significant amount of weight.
But they found that people who tried more than one weight loss method – for example exercise plus a controlled or calorie-restricted diet – were more likely to have had successful weight loss.
Only 22% of those who tried only one weight loss strategy lost a significant proportion of their body weight, compared to 33% who used a combination of weight loss tools.
“Our survey results indicate that while the majority of obese adults actively try to reduce their weight, using a variety of strategies, most fail,” Dr. Evans said.
“This underscores the need for increased support and solutions for weight management.
“And while the impact of obesity on health is well known, our finding that a significant proportion of obese adults appear to be at high risk for hospitalization or surgery due to multiple underlying diseases, adds undoubtedly a sense of urgency to tackling the growing obesity epidemic in Europe.”
Meanwhile, a separate study published at the conference found that the impact of weight loss or gain on serious health problems in obese people depends on their starting body mass index (BMI).
The study, led by Professor Kamlesh Khunti of the University of Leicester Diabetes Research Centre, looked at data from 422,642 obese adults in the UK between 2001 and 2010.
Researchers compared how the risk of developing 13 obesity-related complications – including sleep apnea, high blood pressure, blood clots, heart attacks, asthma and depression – was affected by a change weight.
Participants were followed for an average of seven years.
Weight loss appears to affect patients with lower and higher BMI scores differently.
For heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure, people with the highest baseline BMI (out of 50) benefited the most from weight loss.
But for other conditions, weight loss seems to yield more benefits for people with a BMI of 30.
For example, people with a BMI of 30 who lost about a fifth of their total body weight had a 56% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the risk was only reduced by 39% for those who had a BMI of 50.
“If intentional weight loss in obese people with BMIs below about 30 is particularly beneficial to health, and potentially harmful weight gain, we should focus on treating obesity earlier in evolution. of the disease,” Professor Khunti said.