A recent US study of middle-aged women who were either overweight or obese showed that a 10 per cent reduction in body weight was enough to lower their risk of developing heart disease.
Rachelle Foreman, Heart Foundation Health Director (Queensland), said it was important when losing weight that people set realistic goals and maintain them.
“Many people who know they have a weight problem charge into the New Year with a burst of enthusiasm to lose a dramatic amount of weight,” said Ms Foreman.
“But when it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race.”
“The best thing you can do for your health is set an attainable weight loss target and keep the weight off for a longer period of time. “A goal of 10 per cent weight loss should be achievable for most people through simple everyday changes to their diet and level of physical activity,” she said.
The US research noted that women involved in short-term weight loss programs tended to lose more weight initially but after six months many had started to gain it back again.
However those who lost and sustained at least 10 per cent of their overall body weight for two years had reduced levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, reduced levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), better control of their glucose and insulin levels and less inflammation in their bodies.
Ms Foreman said the US study confirmed similar research conducted in Australia that also included men.
“Heart disease is the biggest killer of Australians and reducing your heart disease risk is a great gift to give yourself in 2014!” said Ms Foreman.
For most people being a healthy weight means having a BMI (body mass index) between 18.5 and 24.9, but waist circumference is also a good indicator – women should aim for a waist measurement of less than 80cm and men for less than 94cm.