Ideal Weight Loss Target Not Best for Obesity Management

Weight Loss Target
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It might seem sensible to consider a return to ‘ideal’ weight as being the proper aim of a weight management programme. Surely, you might ask, there is no point in all that effort unless the patient is going to get back to his or her ideal weight?

Wrong. There are many sound reasons not to set this unrealistic and often unattainable goal.

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The body’s physiological responses to decreased food intake serve to limit weight loss; it is unusual to return to the ideal weight with dieting, unless the patient is particularly determined and focused. Repeated failure to achieve ideal weight may increase the patient’s sense of failure and further reduce self esteem. This helps to explain why research shows that most patients are unable to continue losing weight for longer than 12-16 weeks, with a 4-8 kg loss tending to be the maximum achieved.

Even Small Weight Loss is Healthy

But there is no reason for patients to get disappointed or depressed by these facts. Even small losses of weight will have large health and other benefits:

  • Substantial reductions in mortality associated with obesity can accrue from modest weight losses such as 5kg in one year.
  • Long-term health depends on limiting weight gain over a number of years, not on getting rid of excess weight quickly only to regain it again.

Weight Loss Priority

The priority in obesity management, therefore, is on weight maintenance and modest weight loss rather than a return to ideal weight. A routine weight management programme will look something like this:

  • Negotiate an agreed level of weight loss with the patient.
  • Plan a 12-week structured programme for weight loss.
  • Plan a further 12-week structured programme for weight maintenance.
  • Renegotiate further losses with the patient after a period of weight stability.


Healthy Weight Loss
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