Health and weight

The physical benefits of losing weight

"If you don’t have your health it’s very hard to have anything else, or appreciate anything else so to speak. If you’re ill it doesn’t really matter how much money you’ve got because you won’t appreciate it because you’re ill".
There are definite health benefits that overweight or obese people can gain from losing some weight, for example, reducing the chance of developing certain diseases. For most obese or overweight people health benefits can come with losing the first 5*-10% of weight.
Feeling ‘better’

The physical and health rewards of losing weight were described as ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, ‘unbelievable’ by some young people. Changes young people noticed since losing weight included:
  • • Having more energy
  • • Sleeping better and waking up feeling rested and in a good mood
  • • Having fewer aches and pains
  • • Improved ability to move and get around
  • • Finding it easier to breathe
  • • Improved immune system (ability to fight off illness)
Reducing the risk of disease

Conditions such as Type 2 diabetes are less likely to develop if an obese person loses 10% of their weight. Weight loss can also help if a person already has high blood pressure or Types 2 diabetes type 2 as a result of their weight. If a person is taking medication for these problems and loses weight, they should consult their doctor as they may need a smaller dose. Weight loss in overweight or obese people will also reduce the likelihood of having heart disease, stroke, or obesity-related cancers all of which can be life-threatening. For links to more information see our resources section.
Those who were at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes had been told by their doctors that their blood sugar levels had much improved and that their risk of developing the condition had reduced since losing weight. Those with asthma had noticed a significant improvement in their condition and had either no need to take much medication or their asthma was simply no longer a medical issue.
Talking with the young people, it was clear that health, rather than weight was a priority for them. The two most important reasons given for losing weight were:

• To improve health
• To improve chances of living a long and healthier life
Most young people understood the relationship between diet, exercise and well-being (see also Healthy eating).
Many of the young people we spoke to didn’t link being thin with being healthy neither did they associate a big body frame with necessarily being unhealthy. For them the issue was whether their weight was related to having more muscle or fat in their body. Many young people under 15 who had been on community-based weight managing programmes are well-informed about the damaging effects of being overweight and obese. They were able to describe how fat clogs vital organs in the body with harmful health consequences.

*Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Faidon Magkos, Gemma Fraterrigo, Jun Yoshino, Courtney Luecking, Kyleigh Kirbach, Shannon C. Kelly, Lisa de las Fuentes, Songbing He, Adewole L. Okunade, Bruce W. Patterson, Samuel Klein. Published: February 22, 2016 Cell Metabolism. Volume 23, Issue 4, 12 April 2016, Pages 591–601

Last reviewed July 2017.
​Last updated July 2017.


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