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Sustained weight loss reduces risk of adverse cardiometabolic outcomes

Rod Tucker
3 November, 2021  

Sustained weight loss over 6 years delays the onset of the adverse cardiometabolic outcomes type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia.

A sustained weight loss over several years, not only delays but reduces the overall incidence of adverse cardiometabolic outcomes including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia. This was the conclusion of a retrospective analysis of nearly 50,0000 patients by researchers from Geisinger Health, Pennsylvania, US. According to the world Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide levels of obesity have tripled since 1975 and in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight and of these over 650 million were obese. However, obesity is not limited to adults and WHO data also suggests that in 2020, 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese. In a 2017 article, the World Obesity Federation issued a position statement, arguing that obesity should be perceived as a chronic relapsing disease process in which an abundance of food, coupled with low levels of physical activity, various environmental factors and genetic susceptibilities, all interact to create a positive energy balance. Increased weight and obesity are linked to a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and some cancers. Nevertheless, even a 5% sustained weight loss improves metabolic function in multiple organs although longer term maintenance of weight loss is challenging, with one meta-analysis of 29 weight loss studies concluding that “weight-loss maintenance 4 or 5 y after a structured weight-loss program averages 3.0 kg or 23% of initial weight loss.”

However, what remains unclear is the impact of sustained weight loss on the development of cardiometabolic diseases and for the present study, researchers turned to in data held the Geisinger Health System, which represents one of the largest healthcare organisations in the US. The team looked at adult patients for whom there were 3 or more electronic health record entries for weight measurements within a 2-year period. Individuals were then categorised as obesity maintainers (OM), i.e., those with a history of obesity and who maintained their weight within 3% of their baseline levels; weight loss rebounders (WLRs) who had lost > 5% body weight but had regained > 20% of their 1-year loss and finally weight loss maintainers (WLMs), who again loss > 5% of their body weight but maintained > 80% of their 1-year weight loss. The outcomes of interest were the development of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, all of which were extracted from the electronic health records. In their analysis, researchers adjusted for several factors such as age, gender and various co-morbidities.


The sample contained 49,327 individuals with a mean age of 50.4 years (60.2% female) with the majority classed as OM (the reference group) and the whole sample were followed-up for a mean period of 6.6 years. After 5 years, 11.1% of the OM, 9.1% of the WLR and 6.5% of the WLM had developed type 2 diabetes and those in the sustained weight loss group (WLM) had a 33% lower risk of developing incident type 2 diabetes (adjusted hazard ratio, aHR = 0.68, 95% CI 0.62 – 0.74, p < 0.0001). Similarly, the WLM had a reduced risk of developing hypertension (aHR = 0.72) and hyperlipidaemia (aHR = 0.86).

Based on these findings, the authors concluded that sustained weight loss was associated with a delayed onset of cardiometabolic diseases and that these associations are enhanced in those with the greatest weight loss.


Bailey-Davis L et al. Impact of Sustained Weight Loss on Cardiometabolic Outcomes. Am J Cardiol 2021