weight loss, eating disorder_311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Dieters who are discouraged when their weight yo-yos up and down should be
encouraged by specific blood biomarkers just discovered by researchers at
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba and colleagues in German that
indicate their health is improving even if they are not always losing
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The research was published online on Wednesday night in the
journal Diabetes Care. Long-term healthy dietary interventions frequently induce
a swift weight decline, mainly in the first four to six months, followed by
weight stabilization or regain, despite continued dieting. The partial regain
may discourage people from sticking to healthier dietary habits.
study was conducted on 322 participants during the two-year Dietary Intervention
Randomized Controlled Trial (DIRECT) performed by BGU and the Nuclear Research
Center in the Negev. The participants were randomized into three different, but
healthy interventions – low-fat, Mediterranean or low-carbohydrate diets. Strict
adherence to the diets was maintained throughout the two-year
“This study tells us that we may have all been too tunnel-viewed
on weight when it comes to healthy dieting. Although maintaining ideal body
weight is linked to better health, when it comes to adopting healthier dietary
habits in mild to moderately obese people, there are benefits beyond weight
loss, such as decreasing inflammatory tone and elevating ‘good cholesterol’
(HDL),” Faculty of Health Sciences Prof. Assaf Rudich said.
similar to what we have been learning in diabetes, in which we now understand
not to deal just with glucose levels, but also relate to blood lipids, blood
pressure, coagulation and so on,” he said.
In obesity, the researchers
wrote, health benefits of persistently switching to healthier dieting extend
beyond the single outcome of weight loss.
“In fact, important
improvements that likely signify decreased risk for cardiovascular disease occur
even despite weight regain, as long as dieting persists,” Rudich
The researchers identified two distinct patterns: “Pattern-A”
includes biomarkers (insulin, triglycerides, leptin, chemerin,
monocyte-chemotacticprotein- 1(MCP-1) and retinol-binding-protein- 4(RBP4))
whose dynamics tightly corresponded to changes in body weight; they
significantly improved during the first six months of the “rapid weight-loss
phase,” but then, unfortunately, significantly changed their trend to the
opposite direction once participants started to regain weight (the “weight
maintenance/regain phase,” during the seventh through 24th months).
the other hand, the researchers identified a totally different pattern of
biomarkers (“Pattern B,” which includes high-molecular-weight (HMW) adiponectin,
HDL-cholesterol, high-sensitive Creactive protein (hsCRP), fetuin-A,
progranulin, and vaspin). This displayed a continued, cumulative improvement
throughout the intervention, despite the partial weight regain observed during
months seven to 24 of continued dieting.
These patterns were similar,
although of different magnitude, across the low-carb, Mediterranean and low-fat
Along the same line of continued benefit of adopting healthier
dietary habits, the research team published an article last year in Circulation
(a journal of the American Heart Association) that participants in the DIRECT
showed regression of the atherosclerotic plaque in their carotid artery, a
process underlying a large percentage of the cases of stroke. Atherosclerosis
was previously seen to regress only with medications or with quite extreme
According to Prof. Iris Shai, principal investigator of
the DIRECT, these findings contain a strong message for the
“Switching to a healthy lifestyle is a long-term strategy that
should be done moderately but persistently.
There are no magic shortcuts.
There is no doubt that moderate weight loss is an important goal for specific
populations, and losing weight will indeed improve several markers that are
rather tightly related to fat mass such as triglycerides, insulin and leptin.
These, however, will tend to change similarly to weight dynamics.”
she said, “it is encouraging that adhering to a healthy diet per se will
continue to improve other blood biomarkers, some of which quite strongly
associate with improved cardio-metabolic health, likely because they reflect
adipose tissue and other organs’ function, such as HDL-c, adiponectin and CRP.
Such markers may signify long-term effects of the initial weight loss, or, maybe
even more promisingly, reveal to us the capacity of healthier dietary habits to
reverse obesity-associated adipose tissue and liver dysfunction,” Shai said.