Irish Daily Mail

How dieters can spend years stuck at same weight

- By Victoria Allen

DO you constantly struggle to lose weight – and even if you succeed, the pounds soon pile back on?

Research says you are far from alone. Nearly everyone hovers around the same stubborn weight for years.

Scientists tracked more than 260,000 overweight or obese people for more than a decade to see how their body mass index (BMI) changed over time.

They expected to find one group who lost weight through diet and exercise, a group who gained weight as they got older, and some who stayed the same.

Instead, there were four groups – the constantly overweight, the constantly obese, the severely obese and the dangerousl­y obese.

Those who stayed mildly obese had a 51% higher chance of suffering heart failure than the consistent­ly overweight and were 44% more likely to die from cardiovasc­ular disease. The most obese were more than three times the risk of a heart-related death.

The study looked at 264,230 people registered at 790 GP surgeries in the UK between 1999 and 2018. Their weights were checked at the start then at two, five, eight and ten years. More than a third were consistent­ly overweight, starting with an average BMI of 28.7 (overweight range is 25 to 30).

Their weight crept up over a decade to an average BMI of 29.7. Even those who lost weight stayed in the same bracket.

People in both the mildly obese and severely obese groups became slightly heavier and the fourth group, the ‘morbidly obese’, had an average starting BMI of 49.1, rising to 49.8 over a decade.

The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, also checked whether people had died from heart disease or suffered ‘cardiovasc­ular events’ such as stroke and heart failure.

Heart disease was 14% more likely in the least obese group than in the overweight, and a stroke or mini-stroke 9% more likely.

Just 8.3% of the constantly overweight group died against 14.2% of the morbidly obese. But the most obese did not have a significan­tly higher risk of stroke or coronary heart disease than the overweight.

Dr Barbara Iyen of Nottingham University, lead study author, said: ‘I thought a large proportion of people would lose weight over time and others remain stable.

‘But most people who are overweight or obese appear to get stuck at that degree of weight gain. We did not look at people’s diet or physical activity, but studies show that when people lose weight they often revert back. That may be because people only set out to lose the weight as a short-term goal, or they do not get enough support to maintain their weight loss.’

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