Effects of an 8-week weight-loss program on cardiovascular disease risk factors and regional body composition

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;56(7):585-92. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601362.


Objective: To determine the influence of weight loss on multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors.

Design: Overweight women (n = 12; mean 44.2% fat) and men (n = 10; mean 30.7% fat) participated in an 8 week weight-loss program that included dietary, exercise, multi-vitamin/mineral supplementation, and behavior modification components. Measurement of total and regional body composition assessed using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), circumferences and blood sampling for total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerols, homocysteine, insulin and leptin were performed before and after the weight loss intervention.

Results: Subjects increased their physical activity and decreased their energy intake, resulting in a mean decrease in body mass of - 4.3 +/- 3.4 kg in women and -4.7 +/- 3.1 kg in men. Fat accounted for 88 and 58% of the decrease in body mass in men and women, respectively. Proportionally, men lost significantly more fat mass from the trunk region compared to women. Serum total and LDL cholesterol were significantly decreased in men (-11 and -14%, respectively) but not women (-3 and -3%, respectively) and there were no changes in HDL cholesterol and triacylglycerols. Serum leptin was significantly decreased (-36%) and highly correlated to fat mass (r= 0.839). There were no changes in serum insulin and plasma homocysteine.

Conclusions: These data indicate that short-term weight loss resulting from reducing percentage energy from fat, increasing physical activity and vitamin/mineral supplements including folic acid has a favorable effect on regional body composition and total and LDL cholesterol with minimal effects on HDL cholesterol, triacylglycerols, homocysteine and insulin and the effects are greater in men compared to women. Supplementation with folic acid or emphasis on folic acid-rich foods may be an important component of a weight loss program to prevent increases in homocysteine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Constitution
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Intake
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Folic Acid / metabolism
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Lipids
  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid