What We Do Not Know About Weight Loss

Controversies in ObesityIn our exhaustive review of the potential health benefits of intentional long-term weight loss, published in Annual Reviews in Nutrition, I discussed in yesterday’s post, we also noted a number of issues that remain unresolved.

These include:

  1. The precise definition of success in terms of weight loss remains controversial, and the dogmatic assumption that prolonged periods of sustained weight loss (greater than 10 years) are more likely than shorter periods to have a beneficial effect on health out- comes has never been challenged.
  2. Some evidence suggests that intentional weight loss may lead to meaningful reductions in several conditions, such as COPD, and cancer risk with a short latency time, although data from randomized trials are not yet available to support this hypothesis.
  3. Future studies on the relationship between long-term weight loss and suicide are needed, especially in diverse populations, subgroups of patients, and those who engage in other long-term weight-loss strategies apart from the use of antiobesity medications and bariatric surgery. The potential relationship between failed weight-loss attempts and suicide ideation needs to be evaluated.
  4. There is ongoing controversy over the findings from epidemiological studies on the relationship between weight loss and mortality. Data from controlled studies in this regard are very limited.

Clearly, as we discussed at length here at the ongoing Canadian Obesity Network’s Obesity Research Summer School (Boot camp), much remains to be done for young researchers planning a career in this field.

Kananaskis, AB