Most weight loss programs try to motivate individuals with warnings of the long-term health consequences of obesity: increased risk for cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and asthma. New research suggests the immediate health benefits — such as reduced pain — may be the most effective motivator for helping obese individuals shed extra weight and commit to keeping it off.
In a pilot research study, University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers found that 21 percent of participants in a local dietary weight loss program reported significantly less pain in the lower extremities and back after losing an average of 10 pounds. Additionally, study participants reported a 20 to 30 percent reduction in overall bodily pain after weight loss.
Researchers say their results indicate that even small weight loss can relieve pain and reduce the burden excessive weight puts on the musculoskeletal system.
“By focusing on an immediate benefit that can be felt — like pain reduction — instead of the future health impact of obesity, weight loss programs may be able to inspire overweight individuals to lose weight,” says Susan Kotowski, PhD, study collaborator and director of the Gait and Movement Analysis Laboratory in the UC College of Allied Health Sciences.
Kotowski and colleague Kermit Davis, PhD, report their findings in the August 2010 issue of the journal Work.