This study is the first to compare weight-loss strategies and results based on the American Heart Association's "Life's Essential 8," which promotes risk reduction for heart disease through recommended metrics including body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, smoking, physical activity, diet, and sleep.
The findings showed that U.S. adults had an average score of 60 out of 100 on the eight measures, indicating room for improvement even among those who made positive changes in their diet and exercise habits.
The research highlights the need for behavior change and adherence to the Life's Essential 8 behaviors for cardiovascular health. The study participants' data were collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and the analysis showed that clinically significant weight loss led to improvements in certain health indicators. Losing just 5% of body weight was found to have meaningful clinical benefits.
The group with clinically significant weight loss demonstrated higher diet quality, including better scores in protein intake, refined grains, and added sugar. They also engaged in more moderate and vigorous physical activity and had lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, this group also had a higher average body mass index (BMI), HbA1c blood sugar measure, and fewer hours of sleep, which affected their overall Life's Essential 8 score.
On the other hand, individuals who did not achieve at least a 5% weight loss reported using non-evidence-based weight-loss strategies such as skipping meals or taking prescription diet pills. These individuals also reported following low-carb and liquid diets, using laxatives or vomiting, and smoking.
The researchers emphasize the importance of sustainable behavior changes and eating patterns for weight loss, as non-evidence-based approaches are not effective in the long term. With the prevalence of overweight and obesity projected to increase in the future, there is a need for a shift toward prevention strategies to combat heart disease and related health problems.
The study underscores the significance of prevention rather than waiting until disease diagnosis, as early intervention and lifestyle modifications can have a substantial impact on reducing the risk of heart disease.