Reducing Risk of Chronic Diseases

USA TODAY, February 1994 | Go to article overview

Reducing Risk of Chronic Diseases


Among the morbidly obese (150-200% overweight), moderate weight loss can mean a 20-75% reduction in risk factors for several chronic diseases. In a study by George Blackburn, one of the nation's foremost authorities on obesity, significantly overweight patients who lost 10-20% of their body weight - and kept it off during a three-year follow-up period - reduced their risk factors for hypertension (by 70-75%, on average), Type II diabetes mellitus (40-60%), and cardiovascular disease (25-50%). In addition, the risk of gastrointestinal tract and sleeping disorders were decreased by 25%. Some of the study's findings were unexpected, Blackburn indicates. "We found that the most critical pounds lost are the first, and that, beyond a certain point, taking off more [weight] wasn't necessarily better from a health perspective.

"The key is to lose fat while increasing the percentage of lean tissue. It's absolutely essential to modify lifelong eating habits, not just go on a crash diet. …

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