~ Losing Weight Better Than Drugs: Study

07-10-06

Losing a couple of kilos and keeping it off has far greater health benefits than any single preventative drug on the market, researchers have found.

A study by science agency the CSIRO has revealed that even a small sustained weight loss can be more effective than pharmacological approaches to disease prevention.

Leading nutritionist Professor Manny Noakes investigated the benefits of three to four kg of weight loss, sustained for four years.

"There is compelling evidence showing sensible weight loss that incorporates healthy eating as well as a small amount of resistance training has significant benefits in reducing disease morbidity," Prof Noakes said.

"In essence it would take many pills to achieve what a four-kilogram weight loss can achieve."

She said losing excess weight could improve cholesterol levels and delay the development of arterial deposits which lead to stroke and heart attack.

It lowers blood pressure which reduces stress on the kidneys, and lowers glucose and insulin response which prevents diabetes and stress on the pancreas.

"It can also reduce DNA damage which leads to degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and heart disease," Prof Noakes said.

There was also emerging evidence that eating less but still eating a nutritious diet could delay the ageing process and prolong life, she said.

Presenting her findings to the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Incorporated Convention in Adelaide on Tuesday, the nutritionist will also tackle the contentious issue of weight loss in older people.

Some studies have proven that weight loss can be detrimental to the health of the elderly, but Prof Noakes said this was only true if the person shed their kilos without meaning to.

"Unintentional weight loss may be the result of existing health problems ... and can mask beneficial changes in cardiovascular risk and other diseases,"

Sensible, intentional weight loss, on the other hand, can be extremely beneficial, she said.


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