Newswise — Losing weight is hard to do. Anyone who has tried knows it is true. For most of us, the thought of dropping that extra 20 or 30 pounds of padding seems like an insurmountable goal. Imagine the need to drop 100 pounds or more.
That's just what 118 men and women did. Those 63 men and 55 women were part of a nine-year study led by Dr. James Anderson, head of the UK College of Medicine Metabolic Research Group. The average beginning weight of study participants was 353 pounds. The average weight loss was 134 pounds in 44 weeks.
"Many severely obese persons, needing to lose more than 100 pounds, become frustrated and turn to surgery," Anderson said. "This study shows that one in four persons who participate in an intensive weight loss program for 12 weeks can go on to lose over 100 pounds. This program has much lower risks than surgery and can lead to similar long-term weight loss."
Study participants were enrolled in the Health Management Resources (HMR) Weight Management Program, an intensive behavioral program, which is a partnership between HMR and UK. The program is based on limited calorie intake " 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily " through specialty entrees and meal replacements such as protein shakes. Participants also increased their physical activity, with walking being the exercise of choice.
The positive results went beyond lower digits on the scale. The weight loss was accompanied by improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, sleep apnea and other ails. Sixty-six percent of the participants on medications for high blood lipids, high blood pressure, diabetes or degenerative joint disease were able to discontinue those medications, saving an average of $100 a month and netting a priceless return in health.
"Losing more than 100 pounds is a great achievement," Anderson said. "But the overall benefits in ability to enjoy life and be a full participant in activities with family and friends are more important to most people than are the reduced need to take medicine and worry about health issues."