Modest weight loss can help reduce heart disease and diabetes in middle-aged women

Overweight or obese middle-aged women who can sustain moderate weight loss over two years may reduce their risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to a new study.

Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that women who sustained a 10 percent or more body weight loss over 24 months reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin and inflammation markers.

Obstacles to weight loss

The study included 417 women who participated in a weight loss program for two years. On average, the women were 44 years old and weighed about 200 pounds at the start of the study.

Researchers noted that middle-age weight gain for women becomes a common problem, with factors like sedentary jobs, repeated pregnancies and the menopause transition all making weight loss even more difficult.

“It is challenging to lose weight, but if women commit to losing 10 percent of their body weight and sustain that over time, it can have a large impact on overall risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes,” said Cynthia A. Thomson, Ph.D., RD, co-author and Professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and Director of the University of Arizona Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention & Health Promotion in Tucson.

Longer support necessary

Women tend to do well in the first six months of weight loss programs, the researchers noted, but then rebound after that.

“Our study revealed the need for healthcare providers to provide women with longer-term support for weight control," said Thomson. "It seems to pay off in terms of modifying risk factors for obesity-related disease."

Source: American Heart Association

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