- New research shows that while most obese adults have tried to lose weight, often through diet or exercise, many have failed to lose weight.
- Popular diets and exercise programs are difficult to maintain over the long term, so while some may lose weight in the short term, many often gain it back quickly.
- Health experts say these new findings underscore the need to develop more solutions to help obese people achieve their weight loss goals.
New research from the UK has found that while most obese adults have tried to lose weight, often through diet or exercise, many have failed to lose and keep it off.
The results, which will be presented at the European Obesity Congress from May 4-7, show that exercise programs and calorie-restricted diets are the least effective in helping people lose weight compared to pharmaceutical treatments and diet. bariatric surgery.
The researchers say the findings highlight the need for more support and better weight management solutions.
Dr. Dan Azagury, section chief of minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at Stanford University, says these results reflect what providers see every day.
“When you’re trying to lose weight, the odds are stacked against you. It’s so much harder than people — who aren’t struggling with extra weight or treating these patients — assume,” Azagury told Healthline. .
The researchers interviewed 1,850 obese people in six European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Participants were asked about their comorbidities, demographics, treatment use, healthcare use, weight, and weight loss efforts over the past year.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents said they had tried to lose weight, either through low-calorie or restrictive diets (72%), exercise programs (22%) or pharmaceutical treatments (12%) .
But three quarters said they had not lost a significant amount of weight, which was defined as a loss of at least 5% of their body weight. A third of respondents said they had gained weight, defined as gaining at least 5% of their body weight.
According to the report, exercise programs and calorie-controlled diets were the least effective – about 20% of respondents were able to lose weight using this method.
Although bariatric surgery is traditionally known to be the most effective weight loss strategy, few participants had undergone bariatric surgery.
“The findings are very important and support the need for better, more comprehensive strategies for the management of obese patients,” said Dr. Jorge Moreno, a Yale Medicine internist who is board certified in obesity medicine and assistant professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, says Healthline.
The report also highlighted how common it is for obesity to coincide with other health complications, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis.
As obesity progresses, these complications also tend to worsen.
“Obesity negatively affects every organ system in the body, therefore, many health issues are directly affected by obesity,” says Dr. Mir Ali, bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at the Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CALIFORNIA.
Metabolic syndrome can contribute to heart disease, reproductive health issues and cancer, according to Azagury.
For example, elevated inflammatory markers in adipose (fat) tissue can contribute to impaired insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes, Moreno says.
“Increased adiposity also leads to increased lipid production, which can lead to coronary heart disease or fatty liver disease,” Moreno said.
Many popular diet and exercise plans are unsustainable.
“The patient generally loses weight with most methods; however, as soon as the diet or exercise regimen is stopped, the weight comes right back,” says Ali.
The most effective weight loss strategies involve long-term diet and behavior changes, Ali said, adding that each patient and their practitioner should develop a personalized plan that the patient can sustain over the long term.
Moreno says patients need to be informed that obesity is a chronic disease and that treating it takes time and requires various methods, such as counseling, medication or surgical referral.
Doctors hope the study will continue to raise awareness about obesity as well as the most effective ways to treat it.
“A multidisciplinary approach to tailoring the best tools to each patient is needed, we now have several safe and effective drugs and procedures to help our patients succeed,” Azagury said.
New research shows that while most obese adults have tried to lose weight, often through diet or exercise, many have failed to lose weight.
Popular diet and exercise programs are difficult to maintain over the long term, so while some may lose weight in the short term, many often gain it back quickly.
The researchers say the findings underscore the need to develop more solutions to help obese people achieve their weight loss goals.