Posted on May 02, 2023, 5 p.m.
According to recent research from Ohio State University published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, more individuals achieved clinically significant weight loss using exercise as a weight loss strategy compared to those who skipped meals and used prescription diet pills as a weight loss strategy.
Anyone trying to lose weight can tell you that there are many different methods on the market that claim to help you drop unwanted weight. There are even ones that claim that you can lose weight without exercising like skipping meals and taking diet pills. But more often than not these methods fail to work the way they claim, and this study suggests that these shortcut weight loss solutions are also not helping heart health which is connected to obesity.
For this study data was analyzed from 20,305 American adults aged 19+, as well as weight loss strategies and results. The American Heart Association’s “Life’s Essential 8” was used as a tool for analysis which is a checklist that provides reduction recommendations for body weight/body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar, diet, sleep, smoking, cholesterol, and physical activity/exercise.
“The Life’s Essential 8 is a valuable tool that provides the core components for cardiovascular health, many of which are modifiable through behavior change,” says senior study author Colleen Spees, associate professor of medical dietetics in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Ohio State University.
According to the researchers, the participants scored an average of 60% on the 8 health measures, suggesting that in general, in America, there is a way to go as far as improving healthy lifestyle habits. 17,435 of the participants lost 5% of their body weight and maintained or gained weight over the past year, and the remaining 2,840 reported an international loss of at least 5% of their body weight.
“Based on the findings in this study, we have a lot of work to do as a country,” adds Spees. “Even though there were significant differences on several parameters between the groups, the fact remains that as a whole, adults in this country are not adopting the Life’s Essential 8 behaviors that are directly correlated with heart health.”
“Clinically significant weight loss results in improvements in some health indices,” explains Spees. “People should feel hopeful in knowing that losing just 5% of their body weight is meaningful in terms of clinical improvements. This is not a huge weight loss. It’s achievable for most, and I would hope that incentives people instead of being paralyzed with a fear of failure.”
Participants with clinically significant weight loss (5%) had an overall higher quality diet, kept refined grains and added sugars to a minimum, had lower LDL cholesterol levels, and engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity than those without clinically significant weight loss. But this group also had a higher average BMI and overall blood sugar level, as well as fewer hours of sleep which decreased their Essential 8 score.
A greater proportion of those that did not obtain clinically significant weight loss often reported skipping meals and taking diet pills to drop unwanted pounds. Additionally, some of this group also reported following low-carb diets, liquid diets, taking laxatives, vomiting, and smoking in effort to shed some weight.
“We saw that people are still gravitating to non-evidence-based approaches for weight loss, which are not sustainable. What is sustainable is changing behaviors and eating patterns,” Spees said.
Federal estimates are that over 85% of the American adult population will be obese or overweight by 2030 compared to the current rate of 73%. To avoid increases in heart diseases and other related health problems a paradigm shift towards prevention is desperately needed.
“We absolutely need to be moving toward prevention of disease versus waiting until people are diagnosed with a disease. This becomes quite overwhelming, and individuals may feel it’s too late at that point,” said Spees. “We have fantastic research, we have incredible educators,” she said. “What we don’t have is policy that promotes optimal health across the lifespan, from pregnancy through older adulthood.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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