Losing a large amount of weight often seems an insurmountable hurdle – but loosing just 10% of your body weight can have some remarkable benefits says Mr Jason Winnett laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon, and fertility expert Dr Rachael Knight.
1. Reversed Pre-Diabetes
Losing a little weight can have some BIG benefits if you’re headed toward diabetes. In fact losing just 10% of body weight can return pre-diabetes blood sugar levels to normal, according to a study in the Lancet Medical Journal. It found that more 50% of patients with diabetes on a GP-based weight loss program did not have the disease a year later.
“GPs and specialists play a big role in weight loss because doctor-based involvement means patients are accountable to someone else,” says Mr Winnett. “As weight gain can also be exacerbated by depression, diabetes, thyroid disease and many other health conditions, being closely involved with someone who has a medical background can help identify issues the patient may not have been able to.”
2. Improved fertility
In decades past, weight loss was often not considered in the fertility equation. But according to Melbourne Fertility expert Dr Rachael Knight who performs infertility treatments, gynaecology and laparoscopic surgeries, it’s a vital part of the pregnancy equation.
“Weight loss needs to be firstly considered in the preconception period because it can cause anovulation, or no egg being released by the ovaries,” she says. “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), must also be considered as it can prevent fertility by disrupting regular ovulation.”
According to one study of more than 600 women in Epidemiology, women with a BMI of more than 27 were three times more likely to be infertile. The good news is that getting “fit for fertility” can vastly improve chances of conception.
One study from American Society of Reproductive Medicine found women who lost 10% of body weight increased conception rates from 54 to 88%.
Referral to a fertility specialist should be considered for women (overweight or otherwise) who:
- Have experienced recurrent miscarriage or poor pregnancy outcome
- Are over 35, and have been unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy after 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse
- Are over age 36 and have been unable to conceive after 6 months
- Have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or endometriosis
- Have irregular cycles
3. Improved blood pressure
Every 1kg of weight loss can improve blood pressure (hypertension) by 1 point, the journal Hypertension shows. And Mr Winnett says there are genetic variances for blood pressure too that should be considered.
“We hear a lot about having too much salt increasing blood pressure, but genetic variances in weight are equally important to consider. Some people can put on 10kg and it has no impact on blood pressure, but others have blood pressure that is very “weight sensitive” so gaining or losing 5kg can make a big difference.”
He says high blood pressure can increase heart attack risk significantly by causing cellular changes to the lining of the arteries which allows plaque to block them. “Significant hypertension also makes the heart work a lot harder and the force of extra blood pumping around the body can cause the left ventricle to enlarge or stiffen, which can cause heart failure over time.”
High blood pressure is also closely linked to vascular dementia and the ability to think and learn, due to limited blood flow. Another issue related to high blood pressure is torn blood vessels in the eye that can cause vision loss, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Blood pressure typically has no symptoms, so needs to be regularly checked with your GP or specialist.
4. Reduced need for knee surgery
The risk of joint pain goes up incrementally with BMI, and while the knee is most impacted by weight gain, hand and hip arthritis can also be impacted by weight.
A 2018 Arthritis Australia submission into the obesity epidemic in Australia has found that being overweight doubles the risk of knee pain, while being obese triples the risk of knee pain. It also found that more than half of obese patients undergoing knee replacement have poor outcomes, compared to 10% of healthy weight people. What is even more concerning is that excess weight in early adulthood increases the risk of arthritis requiring knee replacement by 25%, it found.
5. Reduced Cancer Risk
In Australia, the Cancer Council of Australia now directly links obesity to more than 5300 cases of cancer every year. While 10% weight loss is the goal, even 5% weight loss results in a significantly lower breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women research on 930,000 women reported by the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2018 found.
And every 5 point increase in BMI, equates to a 12% increased risk of breast cancer in menopausal women, according to the National Cancer Institute in the US.
What is the link between cancer and obesity?
“Overweight and obesity can cause changes in the body that can expedite cancer,” says Mr Winnett. “These changes can include long-lasting inflammation and higher than normal levels of insulin, insulin-like growth factor, and sex hormones.”
The Winnett Specialist Group can assist patients with a range of weight loss surgeries, dietetic and psychological support and frequently provides medications for weight loss in patients with obesity and/or diabetes. Weight loss surgeries offered at Winnett Specialist Group include Gastric Sleeve Surgery, Bypass Surgery, and Lap Band Surgery for moderate to severe patients. Mr Winnett also performs non-invasive surgeries such as the Orbera Gastric Balloon (for smaller amounts of weight loss).
Here are some more reasons to lose 10% of your weight:
- Improved mood
- Reduction in sleep apnoea
- Improved mobility
- Reduced migraines
- Improved energy
- Reduced erectile dysfunction
- Improved self-esteem
- Reduced sweating