Cut the Waist

Cut the Waist

Illustrative photo for 'Cut the Waist'
A modest reduction in waist circumference can have significant long term health benefits

The benefits of modest weight and waist reduction

Possibly the most important message of the entire Cut the Waist website is that modest amounts of weight loss are associated with significant health benefits, particularly for people who have accumulated an excess of body fat in high-risk sites.

Relatively modest reductions of just 5 to 10% of body weight bring about disproportionate health benefits. The high-risk fat depots, such as intra-abdominal fat and fat deposited within the liver, are less stable than subcutaneous fat and this is therefore the first fat to go with weight loss.

What does this reduction in high-risk fat depots achieve?

Clinical benefits of moderate weight loss

Here are some specific examples of well-researched significant health benefits of moderate weight loss:

Health benefits of a 10kg (22lb) weight loss in a man of 100kg (15St 8lb):

  • 20-25% reduction in obesity-related death
  • 40-50% reduction in obesity-related cancer deaths
  • >50% reduction in risk of developing type 2 diabetes

The reason for these health benefits is that each 1kg weight loss is estimated to bring with it a reduction in risk factors known to be associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes:

Risk factor Percentage improvement
Serum cholesterol -1.0%
LDL-cholesterol -0.7%
Triglycerides -1.9%
Protective HDL-cholesterol +0.2%
Systolic blood pressure -0.5%
Diastolic blood pressure -0.4%
Blood glucose -0.2mM

This is borne out in clinical research. One study which pooled data from many other studies of patients with type 2 diabetes demonstrated a 9.6% reduction in weight to be associated with a 25.7% reduction in fasting glucose and a reduction in the following cardiovascular risk factors: Serum cholesterol -9.2%, serum triglycerides -26.7%, systolic blood pressure -8.1% and diastolic blood pressure -8.6%1.

Re-defining success

It is easy to see from the diagram below how a 5% loss of body weight can have a significant health impact. An average male may weigh in the region of 80kg. In order to reach a weight of 100kg, the most likely scenario is that 20kg of weight has been gained as excess body fat.

Loss of 5kg body weight means that 25% of the excess body fat has been lost.

Illustration of the significance of a 5% weight loss

As this 5kg of excess body fat is preferentially lost from high risk sites, we see positive health outcomes from this relatively modest weight loss, particularly in those people who have evidence of high-risk fat deposition i.e. raised waist circumference, raised fasting TG, raised ALT or evidence of impaired glucose control.

In order to help encourage people in their efforts to improve health it is important to "re-define success". A 5kg weight loss or 5cm loss of waist circumference should be considered an achievable goal for many people given correct weight management advice, support and encouragement.

The positive health impact of small amounts of weight loss is readily illustrated by type 2 diabetes prevention studies which demonstrate that body weight loss in the region of 5% can prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes in those at risk of developing this condition.

Re-Defining Success (RDS) Calculator

Significant health benefits are associated with modest weight loss of 5-10% of bodyweight. Weight loss success should therefore be considered when a 5-10% weight loss target is achieved and maintained.

The Re-Defining Success (RDS) Calculator is a useful tool to calculate a target body weight following a 5% and 10% weight loss from present weight. Once appropriate weight and waist reduction targets have been calculated, the RDS Calculator can be used to print a personalised change plan and weight management progress record.

The recommendation for a healthy rate of weight loss is 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) per week. The RDS calculator uses this recommendation to suggest an appropriate and realistic timeframe to reach 5% and your 10% weight loss targets.

Re-Defining Success (RDS) Calculator

References

1. Anderson JW, Konz EC. Obesity and disease management: effect of weight loss on comorbid conditions. Obesity Research 2001; 9[Suppl4]: 32S-34S