Weight loss programs have a long history in the United States, but new data suggests they may have been introduced as a way to combat the obesity epidemic.
In addition to the federal government, more than 100 state governments are investing in Weight Loss Programs for Children (WLPFC), and more than 70 million Americans have participated in a program in one way or another.
Now, a new study suggests they are also used as a means of improving the health of people in America.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and other institutions, including Harvard Medical School, found that people who participated in Weight Losing Programs for Kids (WLPCK) experienced a decline in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The study also found that those who participated were less likely to develop chronic diseases, and those who did had lower mortality and longer life expectancies.
“It’s not surprising that we see weight loss as a very good thing,” said lead author Robert Ramey, a professor in the School of Public Health and Human Biology at UC San Francisco.
“But there are many more things that people need to do.”
A study in the journal Preventive Medicine found that about one in five people in this country have been overweight or obese.
That number has increased significantly in the past few decades, and it’s been shown to increase risk for type 2 diabetics, obesity, and heart disease.
In the study, Rameys team examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which includes nearly 200,000 participants ages 5 to 64.
The team looked at data collected in 2014, 2015, and 2016, which was the last time data on participants’ weight, waist circumference and height was collected.
This data was compared with the data collected during NHANES from 2000 to 2012.
They found that the prevalence of overweight and obesity was increasing in the late 1990s, but had plateaued in the early 2000s.
“We found a trend towards the increase in obesity and the increase that we had seen with weight loss,” Ramees said.
“So that was a big surprise.”
The researchers found that more than three-quarters of the participants in the study had a BMI over 25, with the majority being between 25 and 29.
People who were overweight or obesity were also at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and were less able to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease.
“I think it was very surprising,” Rames said.
People with higher BMI had a lower likelihood of having diabetes and had a higher likelihood of developing hypertension and heart failure.
Researchers found that among people with Type 2 Diabetes, those with higher BMIs were less healthy and less likely than people with lower BMIs to participate in weight loss efforts.
People in the higher BMI categories were also less likely in their health to have access to health care.
Rameays team said that while it’s important to get regular screening for diabetes, it may be harder to get a diagnosis if people don’t engage in weight-loss efforts.
Rames told ABC News that it’s not just people with diabetes who might benefit from the Weight Loss Program for Kids.
People of all ages can benefit from weight loss.
“People who are younger than 30, and people who are at low risk for developing diabetes, or people with a history of diabetes, those are the people that are likely to benefit from this,” Radey said.
He said the study also looked at people with the lowest BMIs, and they were more likely to be obese.
“If you are a 30-year-old woman who is obese, you have a greater likelihood of being obese if you have Type 2 Diabetic disease,” Rasey said, adding that overweight people are also more likely than normal-weight people to be at higher risks for developing heart disease and other conditions.
“Those are some of the factors that may explain why people who have Type 1 diabetes are more likely and more likely not to lose weight,” Rases said.
Raseys team also found some differences in the way participants in different groups were measured.
People at higher BMI levels had a shorter waist circumference than those with lower BMI, but that didn’t seem to affect the amount of weight loss they achieved.
People were also more successful at weight loss if they worked out more regularly, and that may have contributed to the differences in results between groups.
Radeys team said they were able to identify participants who were obese or overweight and used their BMI data to compare those participants with those who were normal- or overweight.
“This was an excellent study to look at this,” said study author Jie Chen, who is also a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley.
“It is important to note that the results are very consistent with the findings from previous studies that have looked at the effect of weight-related factors on health and disease.”
Chen told ABC news that they hope