February 22, 2016
2 min read

Metabolic health improves with 5% weight loss in obesity

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Losing 5% of body weight reveals the greatest health benefits among people with obesity, according to study findings published in Cell Metabolism.

Researchers noted that 5% weight loss lowered the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as improved metabolic function in liver, fat and muscle tissue.

“Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5% weight loss,” Samuel Klein, MD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a press release. “The current guidelines for treating obesity recommend a 5% to 10% weight loss, but losing 5% of your body weight is much easier than losing 10%. So it may make sense for patients to aim at the easier target.”

Samuel Klein

Samuel Klein

Klein and colleagues evaluated the effects of 5.1% weight loss (n = 19), 10.8% weight loss (n = 9), 16.4% weight loss (n = 9) and weight maintenance (n = 14) on metabolic outcomes.

A 2% decrease in fat-free mass, an 8% decrease in body fat mass, a 7% decrease in intra-abdominal adipose tissue volume and a 40% decrease in intrahepatic triglyceride content was found with 5% weight loss. Plasma concentrations of glucose, insulin, triglyceride, alanine transaminase and leptin were all significantly decreased with 5% weight loss, whereas no effect was found on free fatty acids, LDL, HDL and adiponectin. Twenty-four hour ambulatory heart rate and ambulatory systolic blood pressure also were decreased with 5% weight loss.

Weight loss of more than 5% further improved beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity in the muscle and revealed changes in adipose tissue mass, intrahepatic triglyceride content and adipose tissue expression of some genes.

“Continued weight loss is good, but not all organ systems respond the same way,” Klein said in the release. “Muscle tissue responds much more to continued weight loss, but liver and adipose tissue have pretty much achieved their maximum benefit at 5% weight loss.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: Klein reports being a shareholder at Aspire Bariatrics and has served on the scientific advisory boards for Novo Nordisk and Takeda Pharmaceuticals.