In a new study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, losing weight was associated with a decreased incidence of cardiometabolic risk factors, even if some of the weight was regained after losing it.
The systematic review and meta-analysis included 124 studies on behavioral weight management programs. There were a total of over 50,000 participants across all the studies, with an average follow-up time of 28 months. Using the combined results, the authors of the meta-analysis estimated the impact of weight loss on risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. They also assessed the impact of weight regain after the end of the programs on those risk factors.
They found that even with weight regain, behavioral weight management programs tended to decrease cardiometabolic risk factors in participants, with the results lasting at least 5 years after the end of the program. While evidence also pointed to reductions in the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, more information is needed to confirm these results. Initial results were promising, but most of the studies did not follow participants for more than 5 years and more data would be needed to draw a definitive conclusion. Across the included studies, participants lost an average of 5–10 pounds and regained an average of 0.26–0.7 pounds per year after the programs ended.
One of the authors noted that most studies on weight loss focus on the immediate results of the intervention rather than on the long-term health impacts of the program. The results of this study are promising because they show improvements at the population level, and they confirm the benefits of weight loss even if some weight is subsequently regained.