Immediate health benefits-such as reduced pain-may be the most effective motivator for helping obese individuals shed extra weight and commit to keeping it off, a new research has suggested.
Most weight loss programs usually try to motivate individuals with warnings of the long-term health consequences of obesity: increased risk for cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati found that 21 percent of participants in a local dietary weight loss program reported significantly less pain in the lower extremities and back after losing an average of 10 pounds. Additionally, study participants reported a 20 to 30 percent reduction in overall bodily pain after weight loss.
According to researchers their results indicate that even small weight loss can relieve pain and reduce the burden excessive weight puts on the musculoskeletal system.
"By focusing on an immediate benefit that can be felt-like pain reduction-instead of the future health impact of obesity, weight loss programs may be able to inspire overweight individuals to lose weight," Susan Kotowski, study collaborator and director of the Gait and Movement Analysis Laboratory in the UC College of Allied Health Sciences said.
"Obesity has become a national health crisis, but compliance for weight loss programs is notoriously poor. One potential reason for this is that current programs target long-term diseases, with little direct relevance to the person's current health status. "Our study results challenge people to rethink the way they structure weight loss programs," Davis, senior author of the study at the UC College of Medicine's environmental health department said.
The study was conducted on thirty two women between the ages of 22 and 76 and data was collected over the course of a 12-week dietary weight loss regimen.
Researchers collected baseline individual weight and musculoskeletal pain data related to nine body regions: neck, shoulders, elbows, hands and wrists, upper back, lower back, hips, knees and lower legs and feet. Participants were then tracked each week to record any weight loss and asked to rate their pain on a scale of zero to 10 every other week.
"From an ergonomics perspective, we can only do so much to alter the work environment to remove body stressors. Excess weight adds additional stress to the musculoskeletal system and that can only be relieved through weight loss," Kotowski said.
The study was published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Work.