Beat obesity: lose 5-10% of your body weight

There is scientific evidence that many obesity-related conditions improve with a five to 10% weight-loss. Dr Gary Hudson explains.

Obesity in South Africa

South Africa has the highest rates of obesity in sub-Saharan Africa. According to 2016 reports, up to 70% of women and one third of men are overweight or obese.

More astounding is that 40% of women in South Africa are classified as obese. This means that their Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 30.

What is BMI?

It’s a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of the person’s height in metres (kg/m2). A BMI range of between 18,5 – 24,9 is defined as a normal weight range.

If you have a BMI between 25,0 and 29,9, you are classifies as overweight. If your BMI is over 30,0, you are obese. Go to to access a useful BMI calculator.

Obesity – 1 million deaths per year

According to Dr Gary Hudson, obesity is, globally, the number one non-communicable disease. It is responsible for approximately one million deaths per year. He added that 20% of girls under the age of nine are overweight in South Africa.

Obesity-related health risks

Obesity is related to many health risks and diseases. These include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), joint pain and certain cancers.

The good news is by losing  five to 10% of your body weight, you can enjoy a host of health benefits. In fact, there is scientific evidence that a five to 10 percent weight-loss improves many obesity-related conditions.

Scientific evidence

A weight loss of five to 10 percent can result in a five-point increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol – the good cholesterol. HDL lowers the risk of developing heart disease. Modest weight loss can also decrease blood pressure.

Research has also shown that a weight loss of five to 10% can decrease a person’s hemoglobin A1C, the marker used to screen for diabetes, by half a point on average. Furthermore, this degree of weight loss has been found to decrease insulin levels, and can help to decrease insulin resistance.

But how do you lose 5 to 10% of your weight?

The thought of losing even five -10% of your weight can be a daunting and somewhat of an impossible task. While the decision to lose weight starts with you, medical research has shown that there is strong and consistent evidence that overweight and obese patients in well-designed programmes can achieve a weight loss as much as 10% of their baseline weight.

Prescription medication together with lifestyle adjustments, such as a healthy eating and exercise plan, can help kick-start a weight loss journey. Speak to your doctor about options for weight-loss management.

Three-way management

Three-way management of obesity – the involvement of the healthcare practitioner, the patient and the support of the patient’s family and colleagues – can yield favourable results.