Losing weight when you’re young may improve long-term health

New research released by Johns Hopkins University suggests that the earlier in life individuals get a handle on their weight management, the greater their chances are of avoiding obesity-related diseases. These findings appear in the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research. 

For this study, the scientists examined the effects of high calorie diets on two sets of genetically engineered mice – one group of 2-month-old mice and another comprised of mice who were as old as 7 months. In mice time, 2-month-old mice are considered young adults, while 7-month-old mice are thought to be middle-aged. All of these mice lacked a hormone that would naturally let them know when they had had enough to eat, which caused them to become obese. Once they were given a low-calorie diet for four weeks, the heart health of the younger mice seemed to improve from the damage done during their time being obese, which was not the case for the older group of mice. 

"We don't know whether the same principle would apply to humans as well, and if so, what the turning point would be. But the basic message is that losing weight sooner rather than later would be more beneficial," said study author Lili Barouch, M.D. "It certainly warrants further study to see if the findings would be similar in people."

In an interview with Everyday Health, Barouch noted that while it's unknown whether this recent mouse study applies to people, some previous mouse studies are thought to reflect the effects of obesity on humans. Therefore, she said it's unwise to put off weight loss for a person whose body mass has risen to unhealthy levels. She notes that there's no cure for congestive heart failure, which is one possible result of obesity, and some people put off changing their lifestyle until after they've developed this and other obesity-related conditions.