Obesity is a major public health problem in the U.S. and many other countries. Weight loss has been an important target for cardiovascular illness risk reduction. The authors of a review that has recently been published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology suggest that increasing physical activity is enormously important and benefits of exercise are independent of weight loss.
Is weight loss the optimal target for obesity-related cardiovascular disease risk reduction?
Ross R, Janiszewski PM. Can J Cardiol. 2008;24 Suppl D:25D-31D.
In the present review, it is argued that while weight loss is associated with substantial reduction in obesity-related cardiovascular disease risk and remains a desired outcome of relevant treatment strategies, increasing physical activity is associated with marked reduction in waist circumference, visceral fat and cardiometabolic risk factors, concurrent with an increase in cardiorespiratory fitness despite minimal or no change in body weight. Failure to recognize the benefits of exercise independent of weight loss masks opportunities to counsel and educate patients whose sole criteria for gauging obesity reduction success is the bathroom scale.