Sustained weight loss over a period of years has been shown to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia.
A sustained weight loss over several years seems to both delay and reduce in incidence reduces the overall incidence of adverse cardiometabolic outcomes including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. This was the finding of a retrospective analysis of nearly 50,0000 patients by researchers from Geisinger Health, Pennsylvania, US. Obesity has become a major health issue and according to the world Health Organisation (WHO), global levels of obesity have tripled since 1975. Data from 2016, suggest that more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight and of these, over 650 million were obese. Nevertheless, obesity is not just a concern for adults and the WHO data also shows how in 2020, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. Tackling obesity can be challenging and in a 2017 article, the World Obesity Federation issued a position statement, arguing that obesity should be perceived as a chronic relapsing disease process in which an abundance of food, coupled with low levels of physical activity, various environmental factors and genetic susceptibilities, all interact to create a positive energy balance. Increased weight and obesity are linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and some cancers. However, there are enormous health benefits from losing weight such that even a 5% sustained weight loss improves metabolic function in multiple organs although longer term maintenance of weight loss is challenging, with one meta-analysis of 29 weight loss studies concluding that “weight-loss maintenance 4 or 5 y after a structured weight-loss program averages 3.0 kg or 23% of initial weight loss.”
While the benefits of weight loss are increasingly recognised, what remains unclear is the impact of sustained weight loss on the development of cardiometabolic diseases and for the present study, researchers turned to in data held the Geisinger Health System, which represents one of the largest healthcare organisations in the US. The team looked at adult patients for whom there were 3 or more electronic health record entries for weight measurements within a 2-year period. Individuals were then categorised as obesity maintainers (OM), i.e., those with a history of obesity and who maintained their weight within 3% of their baseline levels; weight loss rebounders (WLRs) who had lost > 5% body weight but had regained > 20% of their 1-year loss and finally weight loss maintainers (WLMs), who again loss > 5% of their body weight but maintained > 80% of their 1-year weight loss. The outcomes of interest were the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, all of which were extracted from the electronic health records. In their analysis, researchers adjusted for several factors such as age, gender and various co-morbidities.
The sample contained 49,327 individuals with a mean age of 50.4 years (60.2% female) with the majority classed as OM (the reference group) and the whole sample were followed-up for a mean period of 6.6 years. After 5 years, 11.1% of the OM, 9.1% of the WLR and 6.5% of the WLM had developed type 2 diabetes and those in the sustained weight loss group (WLM) had a 33% lower risk of developing incident type 2 diabetes (adjusted hazard ratio, aHR = 0.68, 95% CI 0.62 – 0.74, p < 0.0001). Similarly, the WLM had a reduced risk of developing hypertension (aHR = 0.72) and hyperlipidaemia (aHR = 0.86).
Based on these findings, the authors concluded that sustained weight loss was associated with a delayed onset of cardiometabolic diseases and that these associations are enhanced in those with the greatest weight loss.
Bailey-Davis L et al. Impact of Sustained Weight Loss on Cardiometabolic Outcomes. Am J Cardiol 2021