It makes no difference to overall health whether you lose weight slowly or quickly, according to new research by York University. It is instead the amount of weight lost overall that has an impact.
In the study, led by Jennifer Kuk, researchers looked at the data of over 11,000 patients weight management patients and found that those who lost weight quickly had similar improvements in metabolic health with those who lost weight slowly. Moreover, the rate of weight loss matters less for overall health benefits than the amount of weight you lose.
Normally, individuals are recommended to lose weight at one to two pounds per week, as faster weight loss is related with a slightly higher risk for gallstones. However, there are reasons to believe that faster weight loss may have better effects for cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors.
The study is the first study of its kind to look specifically at risk factors for cardiovascular health and diabetes. The study looked at 11,283 patients who attended the Wharton Medical Clinic Weight Management Program between July 2008 and July 2017. Researchers found that patients who lost weight more quickly tended to have a bigger reduction in obesity and better health improvements than patients who lost weight slowly. However, these improvements in health associated with faster weight loss were abolished after adjusting for absolute weight loss.
Kuk said: ‘With the same pound for pound weight loss, there is no difference in terms of health benefits if you lose weight fast or slow. However, given the risk for gallstones with faster weight loss, trying to lose weight at the recommended one to two pounds per week is the safer option.’
‘The results show that we really need to look at interventions that focus on long-term weight management that can achieve sustained weight loss at the recommended one to two pounds per week.’
The study is published today in the Journal of Obesity.