Chances of Losing and Keeping Off Weight are Poor

The chance of an obese person (BMI 30-35) attaining normal body weight is 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women, increasing to 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women with severe obesity (BMI above 40), according to a study of UK health records led by King’s College London.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggest that current obesity treatments — focused on dieting and exercise – aren’t working for most obese patients.

The research, funded by the U.S. National Institute for Health Research tracked the weight of 278,982 participants using electronic health records from 2004 to 2014.

The study looked at the probability of obese patients attaining normal weight or a 5 per cent reduction in body weight; patients who received bariatric surgery were excluded from the study.

The annual chance of obese patients achieving 5 per cent weight loss was 1 in 12 for men and 1 in 10 for women. For those people who achieved 5 per cent weight loss, 53 per cent regained this weight within two years and 78 per cent had regained the weight within five years.

“Once an adult becomes obese, it is very unlikely that they will return to a healthy body weight,” said study author Dr Alison Fildes.

Both authors call for greater public health initiatives to prevent obesity.