The Mayo Clinic Diet blog

New weight loss guidelines to help you navigate new year

By Donald Hensrud, M.D. February 4, 2014

We're well into the new year and if you made a resolution to lose weight you may find yourself being tested. So, what's new this year that might help you?

In late 2013, new guidelines on the management of obesity were jointly released by The Obesity Society, The American Heart Association and The American College of Cardiology.

A standardized process was used and many different research studies were reviewed to arrive at evidence-based recommendations for weight management. In other words, there's a lot of scientific proof behind these guidelines, not just what some people believe might be the best way to lose weight.

Guidelines on the management of obesity have not been updated since 1998, so what's new about this report? Well, in some ways not a lot. The guidelines reaffirm that calories count and the best treatment program to help lose weight should include tried-and-true lifestyle changes in diet, physical activity and behavior change for at least 6 months. In other words, there's still no magic bullet for weight loss.

Some parts of the guidelines deserve highlighting. One is that there are health benefits from weight loss of as little as 3 percent to 5 percent, which should be encouraging to you. Beyond that amount, the greater the weight loss, the greater the benefits.

They also note there's not one best diet for weight loss. This is more good news in that you can choose a diet that appeals to you. However, the diet should be nutritionally adequate, sustainable over time and help manage other risk factors if present, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Another feature is that a weight loss program can be delivered electronically. Some commercial programs are also an option. Finally, the guidelines mention that a long-term (at least one year) maintenance program is the best way to keep weight off. For further information on these new guidelines, talk to your health care provider.

Feb. 04, 2014