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Losing 5% of Body Weight May Have Serious Health Benefits for Obese People

Obesity is associated with a range of health problems, including cardiovascular problems and diabetes. A recent study suggests that losing just 5% of body weight may have major health benefits for obese people.

Participants in the study included 40 obese people, none of whom had diabetes. They were assigned to lose 5, 10, or 15% of their body weight, or maintain their current body weight.

The researchers noted that the 19 people who lost 5% of their body weight had improvements in the function of insulin-secreting beta cells, as well as insulin sensitivity in fat tissue, liver, and skeletal muscle tissue. They also noted a decrease in total body fat and significantly less fat in the liver.

Nine of the participants continued to lose weight after the study, eventually losing 15% of their initial body weight. In those participants, the researchers noted further beta cell function improvement as well as improved insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, However, there were no increased improvements in insulin sensitivity in the liver or the fat tissue.

The researchers concluded that not all organ systems respond the same way to continued weight loss. Muscle tissue is responsive to continued weight loss, but maximum benefit is achieved for liver and fat tissue at 5% weight loss.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 22, 2016, in Cell Metabolism.

Each year, obesity causes approximately 300,000 premature deaths in the United States.  The negative health effects associated with obesity include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, metabolic syndrome and sleep apnea.

Improving eating habits and increasing physical activity play a vital role in preventing obesity.  It is recommended that we eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day.  It also recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity every day.

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