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Health effects of weight loss

Heather Leisy, MD, MBA, MPH

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for health, but you may be wondering just how important losing those extra pounds can be. Below are some quick facts demonstrating how even a small change in your weight helps your well-being.

Losing weight can:

Prevent type 2 diabetes or improve diabetic control

An average weight loss of 5-10 pounds over two years reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30-60 percent.

Losing about five percent of your total weight (10 pounds for someone weighing 200 pounds) can reduce A1c levels (a measure of glucose levels in the blood) by half a point and potentially decrease diabetic medication needs for those with type 2 diabetes.

Improve cholesterol levels and heart health

A loss of 10-15 pounds reduces LDL-C (“bad cholesterol”) by five points and increases HDL-C (“good cholesterol”) by two-to-three points. Unhealthy fats in your blood stream affect the heart and could cause heart disease so you would be increasing your heart health. A 6-pound weight loss reduces triglycerides, another unhealthy fat that affects your heart health, by 15 points.

Decrease blood pressure

A five percent weight loss reduces blood pressure. This is especially important if you already have high blood pressure and could help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

Decrease chances of heart disease and stroke

Being overweight or obese can double the risk of heart disease and increases the risk of stroke by approximately 40 percent. The definition of overweight or obese is based on body mass index (BMI) and is calculated using your weight and height. Achieving and maintaining healthy BMI levels lowers your chances of developing heart disease.

  • A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered healthy
  • A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight
  • A BMI of 30 and above is considered obese

Improve sleep
Weight loss can relieve sleep apnea resulting in better sleep and decreased daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by your primary care provider after a sleep study.

Improve mood
Studies have shown that an eight percent weight loss is associated with a decrease in depression scores. This means if you feel down or sad, then your mood may be improved with weight loss.

Relieve joint pain
For every pound of weight loss, the load exerted on the knee per step is decreased four-fold. This means less stress on your joints and can prevent or delay the development of osteoarthritis or improve existing joint pain.

Decrease chances of cancer
Obesity is a risk factor for cancer and is estimated that 20 percent of all cancers are caused by excess weight. This means that if your BMI is within a normal range that your chances of having a cancer in your life will be reduced.

Click here to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI).

Dr. Heather Leisy joined HopeHealth in June 2019 as the director of preventive medicine. She provides preventive medical care at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence and researches and implements methods to improve patient outcomes.

Tags: weight, weight loss



HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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