Losing 5 percent of body weight can improve insulin sensitivity and lower risks for developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, a study found.
The findings support obesity experts' conventional wisdom that losing up to 10 percent of body weight can improve cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Study author Dr. Samuel Klein expressed that a small loss in body weight might not carry "dramatic cosmetic benefits," but it comes with big health gains.
Losing any amount of weight could be a challenge for most people. That's why researchers say that those who can't lose beyond 5 percent should not feel like a failure.
"You're much healthier on the inside, and it's a really reasonable and legitimate target for people with obesity," said Klein, who is the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine.
The research team enrolled 40 men and women who are obese in the randomized, controlled trials. Half of the participants were assigned in the weight loss team and the rest in the weight maintenance team.
The participants who lost 5 percent body weight also lost 8 percent body fat mass, 7 percent intra-abdominal fat volume and a staggering 40 percent liver fat. This minor weight loss also decreased glucose, triglycerides and insulin levels in the blood.
Lastly, the loss in body weight results in lower systolic blood pressure and heart rates. All these contributed to lowered risks of developing serious conditions such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
"Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5 percent weight loss," Klein said.
Despite the small number of study participants, Klein said the findings are still noteworthy. Also, the techniques utilized are consistent with those used in big clinical trials. He added that further research is needed to see if diabetes patients will benefit from the same percentage of weight loss.
The research was published in the Cell Metabolism journal on Monday.
Photo: Alan Cleaver | Flickr