What are the benefits of losing weight and how much weight should I lose?

It is difficult to measure how much quality of life is improved if you lose some weight. Many people feel better, and have more energy. Some people notice an improvement in their self-esteem. But there are also definite health benefits from losing some weight. As explained above, many diseases are more common in obese and overweight people, and you are less likely to develop them if you lose some weight. What is more, if your BMI is between 25 to 35, much of the health benefits come with losing the first 5-10% of your weight. (For example, if you weigh 90 kg and you lose 9 kg, this would be 10% of your original weight.) If your BMI is between 25 to 35, on average, if you reduce your weight by 10%:

  • You are much less likely to develop the health problems listed above, such as diabetes.
  • If you already have problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoarthritis, or diabetes, these are likely to improve. If you are taking medication for these problems, you may need a reduced dose.
  • Your chance of dying at any given age is reduced. This is mainly because you are less likely to die from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or obesity- related cancers.

If your BMI is more than 35, you are more likely already to have health problems related to being overweight. You will probably need to lose between 15-20% of your original weight to have sustained improvements in these health problems, and other health benefits.

How do I know if my weight is already affecting my health?

If you are worried that you are overweight or obese, you should discuss this with your doctor. They may be able to determine if your weight is already affecting your health. 

For example, they may start by checking whether you have any symptoms of coronary heart disease such as chest pains, particularly on exertion. They may also ask about any symptoms of osteoarthritis such as back pain or joint pains, or any symptoms of sleep apnoea. They may suggest some tests to screen for any underlying health problems that may be caused by your weight. For example, they may suggest:

  • A blood test for type 2 diabetes.
  • A blood test to look at your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • A blood pressure check.

Other blood tests are sometimes suggested to look for other problems such as an underactive thyroid gland or liver problems. As mentioned above, quite often it can also be the case that if someone is overweight or obese, this can lead to psychological problems. So, your doctor may also ask you questions to look for any signs of these.

Note: your doctor may also be a source of help if you would like to lose weight.

How can I lose weight?

Some people lose weight by strict dieting for a short period. However, as soon as their diet is over, they often go back to their old eating habits, and their weight goes straight back on. Losing weight, and then keeping it off, needs a change in your lifestyle for life. 

This includes such things as:

  • The type of food and drink that you normally buy.
  • The type of meals that you eat.
  • Your pattern of eating.
  • The amount of physical activity that you do.

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