A new study brings somewhat discouraging news for obese individuals trying to lose weight. It shows that the body fights hard to maintain excess pounds, making it very difficult for obese people to lose weight and get in shape.
The study, which was led by Dr. Christopher Ochner, a professor at New York’s Icahn School of Medicine, found that the vast majority of obese people who lose weight through diet and exercise put that weight right back on at a later date. In fact, Ochner found that between 80 and 95 percent of obese people who lost weight gained it all back again.
This has led Ochner to refer to temporary weight loss as “obesity remission,” meaning only a handful of people will keep the weight off for the long term.
Ochner says that obese people, who represent about one-third the total U.S. population, “are biologically very different from individuals of the same age, sex and body weight who never had obesity.”
In other words, people struggling with obesity are dealing with a serious chronic disease and may need more than just diet and exercise to get healthy. Ochner says that these lifestyle changes can help, but “may be no more effective for most individuals with obesity than a recommendation to avoid sharp objects for someone bleeding profusely.”
Ochner suggests that gastric bypass surgery—which physically limits the amount of food one can consume—may be a necessary step for obese individuals who find themselves unable to keep weight off through diet and exercise alone.