The Effects of Losing Weight through Diet or Exercise Programs on Obesity. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:92. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-2-200007180-00022
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(2):92.
Obesity is related to many illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Abdominal obesity, in which most of the extra body fat is in a person's belly, has worse health effects than generalized obesity. It is known that weight loss can improve health outcomes in obese persons and that diet and exercise are the two main ways to lose weight. It is not known, however, whether similar weight loss resulting from exercise causes the same improvement in health as weight loss from diet. It is also not known whether exercise without weight loss provides health benefits for people who are overweight.
To compare the effects of diet-induced weight loss with those of exercise-induced weight loss, and the effects of an exercise program without weight loss, in obese persons.
The study included 52 men who had abdominal obesity.
The researchers randomly assigned each man in the study to weight loss by diet, exercise intended to produce weight loss, exercise not designed to result in weight loss, or no special diet or exercise program (the control group). At the beginning of the study and after 12 weeks, the researchers measured the men's weight, total body fat, proportion of body fat in the abdomen, body muscle, and physical fitness. All of the study patients also had special blood tests for early signs of diabetes (glucose tolerance and insulin resistance).
Men in both the diet and the exercise–weight loss programs lost an average of about 16 pounds. Weight did not change in the control group or in the group assigned to exercise without weight loss. Body fat decreased in both weight loss groups, but men in the exercise–weight loss program lost more body fat than men in the diet–weight loss program. Men assigned to exercise without weight loss lost some abdominal fat. Physical fitness improved in both exercise groups. The tests for early signs of diabetes improved in both weight loss groups.
This study included only men with abdominal obesity. It is unclear whether the results would also apply to women, to persons with nonabdominal obesity, or to less obese persons. In addition, the study lasted only 12 weeks; the effects of longer periods of diet or exercise are therefore not known.
Some health conditions related to obesity may improve with modest weight loss from either diet or exercise. Exercise without weight loss can decrease abdominal fat and may prevent further weight gain but seems to have little effect on the early signs of diabetes.
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The summary below is from the full report titled “Reduction in Obesity and Related Comorbid Conditions after Diet-Induced Weight Loss or Exercise-Induced Weight Loss in Men. A Randomized, Controlled Trial.” It is in the 18 July 2000 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 133, pages 92-103). The authors are R. Ross, D. Dagnone, P.J.H. Jones, H. Smith, A. Paddags, R. Hudson, and I. Janssen.
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