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Losing some weight is good for you; losing more is even better

An older women holds a weight at the gym. Text reads: Losing weight isn't easy but the benefits are big.Sept. 7, 2018—If you're carrying extra pounds, losing even a relatively small amount of weight can help improve your health. But new research suggests that dropping about twice as much weight as is typically recommended more than doubles some of the key health benefits you might gain.

A recent study involved data on 7,670 overweight or obese adults, many of whom had tried to shed pounds. Some of the participants lost from 5 to 10 percent of their starting body weight, a goal health experts often recommend for those who need to slim down. Losing just that amount of weight can help reduce a number of weight-related health risks, research shows.

Study participants who lost 5 and 10 percent of their starting body weight did, indeed, see their health improve. They were 22 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome—a cluster of risk factors that can, in turn, lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke (three of the top health threats in the U.S.) But those who lost even more weight—about 20 percent of their starting body weight—cut their risk for metabolic syndrome by 53 percent.

To be clear, it wasn't easy for the participants to lose weight. Two-thirds of them couldn't lose 5 to 10 percent of their weight, and only 1 in 20 lost 20 percent of their weight. So if you need to lose weight, a smaller, more achievable target should still be your initial goal, one of the study's authors noted. In other words, there's nothing wrong with aiming for a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. But if you can shed even more pounds, you just might reap more health rewards, the study suggests. Before trying to lose any amount of weight, it's always best to ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you.

The study appears in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Read more about the findings.

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