Jan. 29 (UPI) -- When it comes to weight loss, it's not how quickly you lose it, it's how much you lose, a study says.
While people who lose weight more rapidly have better initial overall health outcomes, the net gains don't last, according to the research published Tuesday in the Journal of Obesity. People who lose weight slowly eventually catch up to people who lose weight fast, evening out each strategy's benefits.
"With the same pound for pound weight loss, there is no difference in terms of health benefits if you lose weight fast or slow," Jennifer Kuk, associate professor in York University's Faculty of Health and study author, in a news release. "However, given the risk for gallstones with faster weight loss, trying to lose weight at the recommended one to two pounds per week is the safer option."
The researchers say this is the first study of its kind to analyze risk factors for cardiovascular health and diabetes.
Traditionally, medical professionals told people to limit weight loss to one to two pounds a week. Rapid weight loss has been associated with a heightened risk for gallstones.
Conditions related to obesity -- like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and various forms of cancer -- are among the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S.
"The results show that we really need to look at interventions that focus on long-term weight management that can achieve sustained weight loss at the recommended one to two pounds per week," Kuk said.