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Benefits of Modest Weight Loss

Modest Weight Loss Can Help Combat Obesity

Relatively modest weight loss can have significant health benefits in tackling overweight and obesity, the Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

She announced new draft guidelines for doctors in the fight against Australia’s obesity epidemic.

The draft clinical practice guidelines for weight control and obesity have been developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council and are now open for public comment.

The number of people who are overweight or obese – both adults and children – has reached epidemic proportions throughout the western world. In Australia alone in 1999-2000, an estimated 67 per cent of adult males, 52 per cent of adult females were classified as overweight or obese.

Senator Patterson said: “People’s expectations of weight loss are often unrealistic, making successful treatment more difficult.

“Even a modest loss of 5-10% of starting weight can result in significant health benefits.

“That benefit is probably greater than people realise. If you lose 10% of your weight that is a good thing. It is not as if you are halfway to a goal you will never achieve – it is a success and can deliver sustainable health benefits.”

The guidelines say that low fat eating plans resulting in a daily energy reduction of 2-4 megajoules a day, combined with increased physical activity, appear to be the most effective for long-term weight loss.

A regular pattern of physical activity is one of the key factors involved in maintaining weight loss.

Senator Patterson said: “At first glance, the answers probably seem simple, eat less and move more, but in reality this is one of the most complex and difficult medical problems to deal with in modern disease management.

“Doctors and health professionals are at the front line, with current statistics showing that more than 50 per cent of patients visiting their general practitioner, likely to have overweight or obesity as a key symptom, if not the primary cause of disease.”

Not just adults are at risk – the prevalence of obesity and overweight in children and adolescents has doubled in the past 15 years, with between 20 and 25 per cent of children and adolescents now estimated to be overweight or obese.

Senator Patterson said: “There is much misleading, and sometimes confusing, information to be found in both public and scientific literature, and it is for these reasons that we need guidelines for doctors and health professionals.

“These are the first guidelines for weight control and obesity management ever issued in Australia and they provide detailed evidence-based guidance for doctors and health professionals in assessing and managing overweight and obesity.”

It is expected that the draft guidelines will generate a great amount of interest from individuals, organisations and clinicians. Submissions will be accepted up until 17 January.

Senator Patterson said: “These guidelines highlight important health concerns associated with overweight and obesity and, through the provision of information to doctors for at-risk groups, aim to improve the health of people with conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.”

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