The Health Benefits of Losing Weight

Do you think there are a few Benefits of Losing Weight?

Would you Benefit by Losing Weight - Use a Bathroom Scale and Tape MeasureThere are 4 simple steps you can take to see if your health would benefit by losing weight. Even a moderate 5% weight loss will improve your health, your physical appearance, and your confidence level. You’ll feel better mentally and physically, and you’ll look better too. You’ll love the benefits of losing weight, even if it’s just a few pounds.

Fast Facts

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition 1 more than:

  • 1 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight.
  • 2 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity.
  • 1 in 3 adults were considered to have obesity.
  • About 1 in 13 adults were considered to have extreme obesity.
  • About 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 were considered to have obesity.

More than 1 in 3 Americans is obese. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These health issues stem from a range of underlying metabolic abnormalities that affect the liver, pancreas, muscle, fat, and other tissues.

Step 1:  Understand the Basic Benefits of Losing Weight

The health issues mentioned above are serious and can be deadly. Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans are obese? That’s a lot of people with their health at risk. So, let’s see what obesity means.

Let’s face it, no one likes the term ‘obese’ and I would venture to say that most overweight people would consider themselves pudgy or stocky but not obese. I know a woman who is avoiding her doctor because he offended her when he told her that she was obese. The good news is that she has vowed to lose weight. The bad news is that she has vowed to not to make another appointment until she does.

Who wants to hear that? Besides, to look at her you would think she was slightly overweight but wouldn’t call her obese. So, what exactly does obese mean?

Defining Overweight and Obesity

•   A person whose weight is higher than what is considered as a normal weight adjusted for height is described as being overweight or having obesity. 2

•   Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health. It is defined by body mass index (BMI) and further evaluated in terms of fat distribution via the waist – hip ratio and total cardiovascular risk factors.3

Step 2: Understand what group you are in

By now we know what the word obese means, let’s see how we can determine what groups we are in. Once we know how our group, we will know whether we would benefit by losing weight. It doesn’t take too much as its been shown that even 5% will have its benefits.

Using Body Mass Index (BMI) to Estimate Overweight and Obesity

BMI is the tool most commonly used to estimate and screen for overweight and obesity. BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. For most people, BMI is related to the amount of fat in their bodies, which can raise the risk of many health problems.4 A health care professional can determine if your health is at risk because of your weight.

BMI ranges of Adults Ages 20 and Older:

BMI Classification
18.5 to 24.9 Normal weight
25 to 29.9 Overweight
30+ Obesity (including extreme obesity)
40+ Extreme obesity

An online tool for gauging the BMI of adults can be found here

How to tell if you would benefit by losing weight

As mentioned above, your body mass index (BMI) is one way to tell whether you are at a normal weight, overweight, or obese. The BMI measures your weight and is calculated based on your height.

The BMI table NIDDK for the Body Mass Index Table will help you to find your BMI score. Find your height in inches in the left column labeled “Height.” Move across the row to your weight. The number at the top of the column is the BMI for that height and weight. Pounds are rounded off. You may also go to the tools section at the end of this page for a link to an online tool for calculating your BMI.

A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is in the normal range. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and someone with a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

Note: BMI doesn’t measure actual body fat, a person who is very muscular, like a bodybuilder, may have a high BMI without having a lot of body fat. Please review your findings with your health care provider if your BMI is outside of the normal range.

Step 3: Understand what the benefits of losing weight means to our health.

If you checked out the BMI Tables and have done the calculations, you know your approximate BMI. And now let’s learn why 5% is beneficial.

Always consult your doctor for diet advice and additional information. There are many factors to consider when planning an exercise or weight loss routine. Your doctor will know the best course of action for you.

In a study led by Dr. Samuel Klein at Washington University School of Medicine and supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK),  set out to characterize the metabolic benefits when people with obesity lose 5% and more of their weight.

  • Most treatment guidelines recommend that people who are overweight or obese aim to lose 5% to 10% of their weight to achieve improvements in health.
  • People with obesity who reduced their weight by 5% had improvements in metabolic function in many tissues, including fat, liver, and muscle.
  • Further weight loss of 10 to 15% resulted in some additional improvements.

The Study Participants

The scientists randomly assigned 40 sedentary people with obesity to maintain their body weight or to go on a diet to lose 5% of their body weight, followed by targets of 10% and 15%. Participants averaged 44 years of age with a body mass index (BMI) of 38 (average weight of about 235 pounds). The participants didn’t smoke or have diabetes. The findings appeared online on February 22, 2016, in Cell Metabolism.

People in the weight loss group consumed a low-calorie diet with 50-55% of energy as carbohydrate, 30% as fat, and 15-20% as protein. They were provided with weekly diet and behavioral education sessions.

Nineteen participants achieved their target of 5% weight loss (average of 12 pounds) after about 3.5 months.

Benefits of Losing Weight

The researchers found that these people had significantly decreased body fat, including abdominal fat and fat in the liver. They had decreased plasma levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, and leptin, which are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes. They also showed improved function of insulin-secreting β cells, as well as the ability of fat, liver, and muscle tissue to respond to insulin…

The Findings

…“Our findings demonstrate that you get the biggest bang for your buck with 5% weight loss,” Klein says. “If you weigh 200 pounds, you will be doing yourself a favor if you can lose 10 pounds and keep it off. You don’t have to lose 50 pounds to get important health benefits.”

The study wasn’t designed to determine whether these effects are sustained for longer periods of time. Further research will be needed to find out whether people with diabetes have the same types and patterns of metabolic adaptations following progressive weight loss.

As you can see, we finished with the first 3 steps and you’ve learned a lot. You now know:

  1. the difference between overweight and obesity
  2. which group you fall into – Normal, Overweight, Obese or Extremely Obese
  3. the results of an important study showing how just 5% weight loss has great health benefits.

Great! Now let’s understand just a little more of the health implications before we get to the really important part – what we can do about it?

Causes and Health Consequences of Being Overweight

When we eat more calories than we burn, our bodies store this extra energy as fat. While a few extra pounds may not seem like a big deal, they can increase your chances of having high blood pressure and high blood sugar. These conditions may lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Factors that may contribute to weight gain among adults and youth include genes, eating habits, and physical inactivity.  TV, computer, phone, and other screen time, sleep habits, medical conditions or medications, and where and how people live, including their access to healthy foods and safe places to be active.

Overweight and obesity are risk factors for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, and gallstones, among other conditions. So, the benefit by losing weight can affect how healthy you are and your quality of life.

For more information on the causes and health consequences of overweight and obesity, please visit NIDDK’s webpages on Understanding Adult Overweight and Obesity.

Step 4:  Conclusion: What to do next.

Now we know of the health implications and what’s in it for us if we lose weight and we’re ready for the really important part – what can we do about it?

Make even small lifestyle changes

Think you can modify your habits for the better? If you can modify your behavior enough to lose just 5%, you’ll benefit by losing weight.  It doesn’t take as much as you think if you improve your nutrition and increase your activity.

Healthy behaviors include a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity. Energy balance of the number of calories consumed from foods and beverages with the number of calories your body uses for activity plays a role in preventing excess weight gain.5,6

A healthy diet pattern follows the Dietary Guidelines for Americans which emphasizes eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and drinking water.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity, or a combination of both, along with 2 days of strength training per week.

Having a healthy diet pattern and regular physical activity is also important for long-term health benefits and prevention of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

For more information, see Healthy Weight – Finding a Balance.


✔     An online tool for gauging the BMI of adults — BMI Calculator

✔    BMI Table for determining your BMI — NIDDK for the Body Mass Index

Our Summary on the Benefits of Losing Weight

While knowing your BMI number is important, being overweight or obese is about the amount of fat on your body. If you fall into the overweight or obese categories, don’t focus on the words, but on a combination of healthy eating and exercise. And be sure to discuss your plans with your Doctor before starting a diet or exercise routine.

You will be surprised at how much better you will feel if you focus on losing just 5% of your weight (if you are overweight). And even if you don’t lose as much weight as you thought you would, losing any weight is beneficial. Remember, overweight and obese is about your percentage of fat, not simply how much you weigh.

We hope you found this information helpful. Be sure to use NIH, they have valuable information to help with your fitness challenges. If you’d like to share, let us know if this helped you and if so, about your progress.

Thank you for spending time with us today. Wishing you the best of health!

Source: Overweight & Obesity Statistics | NIDDK; 

[1] Health Information, Health Statistics, Overweight and Obesity
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overweight and Obesity. Accessed July 25, 2017.
[3] Google: what does ‘having obesity’ mean?
[4] NIDDK Health Information, Health Statistics, Overweight, and Obesity Causes
[5] DHHS, AIM for a Healthy Weight, page 5. Available online [PDF-2.17MB]
[6] Hall KD, Sacks G, Chandramohan D, Chow CC, Wang YC, Gortmaker SL, Swinburn BA.Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):826-37.

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Author: Joan

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It's that important.

7 thoughts

  1. Great article, so informative. This year I have lost 18.5 lbs, reduced my BMI to 28 and I’m still losing, slowly but surely. I feel so much better, more energy, healthier and it feels so good to fit into my clothes instead of them stretching trying to fit around me. Small changes to diet can make a huge difference to health and well being. Really enjoyed your blog post.

    1. Thank you Dawn – it sounds like you’ve had a great year – 18.5 is great and BMI of 28 – is fantastic! If you ever want to tell your story and want to share with others, I’m trying of adding a page for that. I find stories like your inspirational and I’m sure it would help others too! Let me know if you’re interested ok?

      Thank you!

      1. Hi Joan, thank you. Yes, I’d be happy to write about the year and healthy eating changes and the resulting weight loss. I do have time constraints due to my caring role but I’d love to draft something out for you in due course.

        1. That would be wonderful Dawn! I understand you have your hands full, so work at your pace and if you leave me a msg on my contact page, we can exchange emails. There is no pressure Dawn (you have enough, unfortunately) and I’m really excited about working with you! You are a role model for sure!

    1. Thank you Christy – I’m trying to make it easier for people to find fitness info in one place, plus exercises and a place to shop for what they need. And I’m learning a lot, it’s been very motivational for me and having fun too!

      BTW – you look like you are someone who exercises – would you like to write a guest blog about your experiences with fitness (good and bad?) :)

      I’d like to start a page where people can find motivational stories. I would love to hear your story – what do you think? :)


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