Written By: Emma Squillace
For someone who is overweight or obese, we know that losing weight can come with both medical benefits and lifestyle improvements like increased confidence and more energy. But how much weight counts as ‘good weight loss’?
2 ways of talking about weight loss
When doctors talk about weight and weight loss, there are 2 primary measure they use. One is the most common: we talk about your total weight and your total weight loss (TWL). The second way to talk about weight is called excess weight and excess weight loss (EWL). Excess weight is the number of pounds your current weight is above your goal weight. For instance, a 280 pound adult with a goal weight of 180 pounds has excess weight of 100 pound. If that adult loses 50 pounds, they’ve lost 18% of their total weight, and 50% of their excess weight. You’ll often see excess weight and EWL in discussions of bariatric surgery and related studies.
The confusion of excess weight
While excess weight is particularly helpful in some bariatric procedure and clinical discussions, there are some limitations. Specifically, it is easy to measure your current weight, but what should be used as a goal weight? Is there a certain BMI – for instance a BMI of 24 – that should be your goal? Should you be hoping to reach your high school weight? Are you aiming to be under a BMI of 30 since that takes you out of the category of obesity? It’s truly a question that must be answered on a case-by-case basis.
A little goes a long way
If you have a substantial amount of weight to lose, the end goal may seem very far off. It’s important to keep in mind that even as you’re starting, small amounts of weight loss can bring you benefit. Studies have found that as little as 10 pounds of weight loss can have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure. Also, if you have knee pain, losing a little weight is a big deal. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of weight you lose equates to 4 fewer pounds of pressure on your knees. So a 10 pound weight loss means your knees are feeling 40 fewer pounds of pressure!
A big difference
Although small amounts of weight loss can bring notable health improvements, the most significant benefits are in the large amounts of weight loss. Being in the BMI category of “normal weight (a BMI of 19 – 24.9), has substantial health benefits compared to being in the BMI category of “overweight” (BMI of 25 – 29.9) or obese (BMI of 30 or above). People who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing more than 10 different types of cancer. They also have a much larger risk of having a stroke or cardiac disease. Losing a notable amount of weight has been shown to improve fertility, allow for a healthier pregnancy, and lower the risk of complications during birth. If you can take yourself out of the category of overweight or obese, your health may see great benefit. This is where the measure of excess weight can be helpful. While it’s tempting to think of 100% EWL as your goal, keep in mind that 50 or 75% of EWL can be an incredible success, and likely to bring notable health benefits.
Losing 50 – 75% of your excess weight can be a realistic goal for many bariatric surgery patients. With a procedure like the gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, people find they are able to lose significant weight, as well as maintain that weight loss in many cases. We also have patients who find success with a gastric balloon, our non-surgical weight loss procedure. At West Medical, we are here to help you understand your weight loss options. Please call our supportive team at (855) 690-0565 to ask any questions or get started on your journey.