Research: Weight loss challenges help with weight​ loss and might lower your risk of heart disease


The collegial nature of a weight loss challenge might help you lose weight.

Exercise with Kettlebells
Exercise with Kettlebells

Anyone not living under rock for the past 10-20 years knows about the biggest loser. The reality show challenged participants to lose weight as a group. Most participants were able to turn a little competition into miraculously surprising weight loss that most would view as impossible. The question is does it really work for weight loss and will it impact cardiovascular risks increased by obesity or is this just another case of Hollywood publicity.

It is well known that regular exercise and a healthy diet are associated with significant changes in not only body weight but also the markers of cardiovascular risk. It just makes sense that healthy living that results in the loss of central body fat should also lower this risk of heart disease. In fact, local gyms prey on individuals who what to make a difference in their waistline and improve their risk. The problem is that very few will make a lasting change and most will fall off the wagon soon after starting but that is another story.

A new study looked at a gym and a six-week weight loss challenge to lose twenty pounds through both exercise and healthy lifestyle change. The study was published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise in 2018​[1]​. The purpose of the study was to determine if weight loss driven programs could result in both improvements in body composition and cardiovascular health. The researchers measured body composition and various measures of both fitness and cardiovascular risk. These measures were observes both before and after the six-week program for thirty-four sedentary adults. All subjects were required to participate in a vigorous boot camp program similar to the one used on the Biggest Loser for a minimum of five days per week for fifty minutes and follow a structured diet plan.

The research revealed that the subjects experienced a significant decrease in total body weight (1 pound) and body fat (2%) following the six-week. The fat loss was accompanied by a significant increase in muscle mass. Most importantly, the subjects lost one inch of waist circumference and experienced both a decreased in LDL. Both of these findings should correlate with a lower heart disease risk.

The bottom line: The results suggest that a weight loss challenge might be effective in causing weight loss and body composition. I would recommend that you enlist family and friends to help you stick to you own challenge. I might just help you lose with and lower your risk of heart disease. reducing TC and LDL. I would like to see another story with a little less intense program.


  1. [1]
    M. A. Whidden et al., “Effects of a Six Week Weight Loss Challenge on Body Composition and Cardiovascular Health,” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, p. 161, May 2018 [Online]. Available:
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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