Most people who are struggling with obesity aren’t going to say that they want to keep all that extra weight — whether for health reasons, aesthetic reasons, or for a combination of both, around 18% of Americans state that they want to lose “a lot” of weight, according to recent surveys.
The problem, a group of researchers are now saying, is that severely obese people are unlikely to lose enough to reach a “normal” weight.
According to Tech Times and Medical News Today, a team of scientists at the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King’s College London found that both men and women are less likely to reach a normal and healthy body weight if they cross the line between overweight and obese.
In the study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, scientists found that weight management strategies focusing on exercise and diet restrictions aren’t enough to curb severe obesity.
For obese men, the chances of recovering their own individual “normal” weight is one in 210; for women, it’s one in 124. For morbidly obese people, the chances are even worse: only one in every 1,290 men will get back to a normal weight, and one in 677 women will.
Using electronic health records to track the weight of 129,194 men and 149,788 women, the researchers also discovered that the majority of people who do lose significant amounts of weight aren’t able to keep it off. The findings show that, even when obese men or women are able to lose 5% in body weight and reach a healthy weight, about 50% will put the weight back on in two years and 78% will gain it back within five years.
Instead of stressing weight loss programs that allow people to take off extra weight, the researchers suggest that programs split their focus between losing weight and keeping it off. Additionally, as with any other health concern, prevention is going to be the single-most important strategy for fighting the obesity epidemic.