New research shows just how beneficial weight loss is for one’s cardiometabolic health. Losing just 5–10 percent of one’s body weight has tremendous benefits, while losing a fifth of one’s weight slashes the risk of metabolic syndrome.

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Almost half of people in the U.S. are trying to lose weight.

According to recent estimates, about 160 million people in the United States — or approximately half of the population — are overweight or live with obesity.

The same goes for children: almost 30 percent of U.S. youth under the age of 20 live with obesity or are overweight.

Worldwide, the U.S. ranks first when it comes to the total number of obese individuals.

Obesity is a known risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, from heart disease to diabetes and cancer.

Thus, many U.S. individuals are actively trying to lose weight. In fact, a recent survey reports that almost half of the entire population has tried to lose weight at some point in the past year.

Although many people are successful in the short-term, most dieters would probably agree that achieving long-term weight loss is the ultimate — and often most challenging — goal.

Long-term weight loss is defined as losing 5–10 percent of a peron’s total weight. The American Heart Association (AHA) advise that adults with excess weight lose at least this much weight in order to reap the benefits for their cardiometabolic health.

New research backs up the AHA’s advice. Though losing even a little bit of weight is good, the new study — led by Greg Knell, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston — highlights the importance of losing at least 5 percent of one’s body weight for good metabolic health.

Knell and colleagues have now published their findings in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The researchers examined data from 7,670 adults who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey included information on the participants’ cardiometabolic health, such as weight, waist size, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol levels.

The study revealed that participants who managed to lose 5–10 percent of their weight were 22 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is an umbrella term that describes several risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

People who lost over 20 percent of their weight benefited even more. These individuals were 53 percent less likely to have metabolic syndrome.

Knell comments on the findings, saying, “If you’re overweight or obese, even losing just a little is better than none. But the rewards appear to be greater for those who manage to lose more.”

“The evidence to date suggests that a 5 to 10 percent weight loss for those with excess weight is beneficial to one’s health. A higher level could potentially lead to lower cardiometabolic risk,” he adds.

However, the study also revealed how few people are successful in their weight loss efforts; 62 percent of the participants were unable to shake off the extra pounds, despite their best efforts.

Since weight loss is so difficult, a 5 to 10 percent weight loss for those with excess weight should be the target. This should be done gradually through following a [healthful] lifestyle with guidance from experts, such as your primary care provider.”

Greg Knell

“Future research,” notes study co-author Qing Li, “should continue exploring effective strategies to help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight which includes individual strategies and social support.”