Study: use your bathroom scale and simple goals to lose weight

For those working to lose weight, hopping on that bathroom scale daily, having goals and charting your progress may be simple but effective ways to bump up weight loss, suggests a new study published today.

The study, published in the Journal of Obesity, adds to a body of research finding that dieters who track their weight have better success at both weight loss and maintenance.  And for lower cancer risk, weight is important. Being overweight and obese is a cause of ten cancers, including postmenopausal breast, colorectal and liver. AICR’s top Recommendation for Cancer Prevention is for people to stay a healthy weight.

This study was held over two years and it started with approximately 150 participants all learning the same evidence-based strategies for weight loss. Everyone was encouraged to make small healthy changes but they weren’t given a specific diet or exercise plan.

The men and women were then divided into two groups. One group was given a scale and asked to weigh themselves daily, preferably in the morning, and then enter their weight on a (password-protected) website. They were directed to aim for 10% weight loss that first year then maintain it the second year. The website gave each person a chart that tracked their progress along with visualization of goal weights. The chart showed trends, having a line appear 1% below the person’s current weight for a new target weight. (After maintaining that target weight for 8 days, the green line lowered another 1% on the chart.)

    example of weigh-loss visal, with goals and trends

example of weight-loss visual, with goals and trends

The second group was told they would receive the weight-loss intervention after a year. Continue reading


Study: Obesity Increases Breast Cancer Risk, Preventing Weight Gain Key

Postmenopausal women who are overweight — and especially obese — have a greater risk of developing breast cancers, finds a new study that highlights the importance of preventing weight gain, as it also raises questions about whether losing weight necessarily reduces that risk.

The study adds to a consistent body of research showing that overweight and obesity increases women’s risk of postmenopausal breast cancers. It was published yesterday in JAMA Oncology.

AICR estimates that a third of US breast cancers could be prevented if women were at a healthy weight throughout life, were active and did not drink alcohol.

In this study, as other research has seen, the heavier the women, the greater the risk. Women categorized as the most obese were at almost double the risk of the most common type of breast cancer, ER-positive, along with PR-positive tumors. These cancers are fueled by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, respectively.

The study used data from approximately 67,000 women who were all part of the Women’s Health Initiative trials. That study focused on preventing certain cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. When the women entered the study in the mid 1990s they were 50 to 79 years old, and they were weighed. They also answered questions about their lifestyle habits, medical history and other health risk factors. After that, they were weighed annually and had regular mammograms. Continue reading


How Fit is Your City? It Relates to Cancer Prevention

Plenty of parks and active commuting along with relatively low rates of obesity and diabetes have led Washington, DC, to rank as America’s fittest metropolitan area for the second year in a row, finds the latest American Fitness Index survey, released today. Minneapolis and San Diego, ranked only slightly below. Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.13.49 AM

The survey is one way residents and policymakers can take steps to lower cancer risk, with many of the measured risk factors related to prevention. Obesity is a cause of ten cancers, and type 2 diabetes links to increased risk of several cancers. Eating fruits and vegetables along with being active — regardless of weight — also reduces risk of several cancers.

The cities that ranked among the least fit face many challenges, including fewer biking paths, parks and physical education school requirements. They also may have less access to fresh fruits and vegetables (farmers markets) and access to public transportation, which generally involves walking.

In Memphis for example, which ranked among the least fit cities, only about 1 percent of residents are taking public transportation to work. And about half the residents reported doing any physical activity in the past 30 days. Compare that to DC, in which 14 percent of the residents are commuting to work by public transportation, and about three-quarters said they were active within the past month.

You can read the full report and see how your city ranks at American Fitness Index.

The survey, by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, used primarily government data to look at measures of personal health and community/environmental health. Personal health indicators included the percent of the residents that smokes, is obese, meets government activity guidelines, and eats three or more vegetables a day.

Community health indicators include biking and walking to work, as well as the amount of parks and recreational centers.