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Study: Faster weight loss no better than slow weight loss for health benefits

January 29, 2019

TORONTO, Jan. 29, 2019 - Losing weight slowly or quickly won't tip the scale in your favour when it comes to overall health, according to new research. Health researchers at York University found that people who lose weight quickly versus those who lose it slowly don't get any additional health benefits and it's the amount of weight lost overall that can have an impact.

In the study led by Jennifer Kuk, associate professor in York University's Faculty of Health, researchers looked at the data of over 11,000 patients at a publicly-funded clinical weight management program and found that those who lost weight quickly had similar improvements in metabolic health with those who lost weight slowly. Moreover, the rate of weight loss matters less for overall health benefits than the amount of weight you lose.

Normally, individuals are recommended to lose weight at one to two pounds per week, as faster weight loss is related with a slightly higher risk for gallstones. However, there are reasons to believe that faster weight loss may have better effects for cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors.

The study is the first study of its kind to look specifically at risk factors for cardiovascular health and diabetes.

"With the same pound for pound weight loss, there is no difference in terms of health benefits if you lose weight fast or slow," says Kuk. "However, given the risk for gallstones with faster weight loss, trying to lose weight at the recommended one to two pounds per week is the safer option."

The study looked at 11,283 patients who attended the Wharton Medical Clinic Weight Management Program between July 2008 and July 2017. Researchers found that patients who lost weight more quickly tended to have a bigger reduction in obesity and better health improvements than patients who lost weight slowly. However, these improvements in health associated with faster weight loss were abolished after adjusting for absolute weight loss.

"The results show that we really need to look at interventions that focus on long-term weight management that can achieve sustained weight loss at the recommended one to two pounds per week," says Kuk.

The study is published today in the Journal of Obesity.
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York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world's most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university - our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact:

Anjum Nayyar, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 44543, anayyar@yorku.ca

York University

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