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Chances of an obese person achieving normal body weight are very low, study finds

Low chance of obese person achieving normal body - study. Photo: PA

A study has found that the chances of an obese person achieving normal body weight are very low.

People are often advised to lose 5% to 10% body weight, but researchers the likelihood of achieving the target is just one in 12 for men and one in 10 for women.

Of those that did manage 5% weight loss, more than half (53%) regained it within two years and nearly four in five (78%) put it on again within five years.

The study, led by King's College London, found the chance of an obese person attaining normal body weight was just one in 210 for men and one in 124 for women, while it was just one in 1,290 for men and one in 677 for women with severe obesity.

The main treatment options offered to obese patients in the UK are weight-management programmes accessed via their GP. This evidence suggests the current system is not working for the vast majority of obese patients.

Once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight.

New approaches are urgently needed to deal with this issue.

Obesity treatments should focus on preventing overweight and obese patients gaining further weight, while also helping those that do lose weight to keep it off.

More importantly, priority needs to be placed on preventing weight gain in the first place.

– Dr Alison Fildes, of the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King's College London

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggest that current weight-management programmes focused on dieting and exercise are failing to achieve sustained weight loss for the majority of obese patients.

Researchers tracked the weight of 279,000 men and women using UK health records from 2004 to 2014.

A minimum of three body mass index (BMI) records per patient was used to estimate weight changes and anyone who received bariatric surgery was excluded from the study.