Feature Archive

A Pound of Prevention

If you're on the heavy side, losing even a little weight can make a huge difference to your health. Here's why.

WebMD Feature

July 24, 2000 -- "Lose 15 pounds in just 8 years!" This promise may not be exciting enough to sell millions of diet books, but if you're overweight, a minor, sustained weight loss could make a major difference to the health of your heart.

Just ask Jerry Messing, a 70-year-old retired salesman in West Palm Beach, Fla. Eight years ago, he carried a hefty 214 pounds on his medium-build, 5-foot-10-inch frame. But like many men, he wasn't terribly concerned about his extra weight. Sure, he thought about losing some. He bought an exercise bicycle that he planned to ride while watching television, but after a few earnest attempts, the bike sat in the corner of his bedroom, ignored. Like millions of Americans, Messing just didn't stick to his resolution to exercise.

Then, in 1992, Messing suffered a heart attack, which, fortunately, he survived. After the attack, his cardiologist said his blood pressure was sky high and prescribed medication to help control it. He also urged him to lose weight.

Messing previously lacked motivation, but a heart attack and his doctor's urgings were a wake-up call to inspire change. Today, his weight is down to 199. While this is not a dramatic weight loss -- just 15 pounds, or about two pounds a year -- his blood pressure is back to normal and he feels better, too.