Intentional weight loss and mortality among initially healthy men and women

Nutr Rev. 2008 Jul;66(7):375-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00047.x.


Most prospective observational studies suggest that weight loss increases the risk of premature death among obese individuals. This is surprising because clinical studies show that weight loss generally leads to overall improvements in cardiovascular risk factors. It is sometimes argued that the increased mortality observed with weight loss must depend on confounding or poor study designs. This review was conducted to summarize results from studies on intentional weight loss and mortality among healthy individuals, while carefully considering the designs and problems in these studies. Evaluation criteria with a rating scale were developed. Of the studies evaluated, two found decreased mortality with intentional weight loss, three found increased mortality, and four found no significant associations between intentional weight loss and total mortality. Thus, it is still not possible for health authorities to make secure recommendations on intentional weight loss. More studies designed to specifically address this issue are warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death*
  • Humans
  • Mortality*
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Weight Loss*