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July 22, 2009

Weight-Loss Could Improve Balance

Obese adults could improve their balance by shedding pounds says a new study.

The research, which appears in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, is important because falling is a common problem for obese adults.

According to previous studies, obese people fall nearly twice as often as thin people, and their falls often cause injury.

The current study, which was conducted by researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, had nine young obese men undergo "fall" tests that estimated the effects of weight loss and strength on balance.

To perform the test, the men were held in a forward-leaning harness at various angles.  The harness was then released and the participants would be evaluated on how well they could recover their balance without taking a step.

Researchers then estimated how the mens' balance could improve with weight loss or increased strength.

They found that weight loss, in particular, would give the participants better balance.

Dr. Michael L. Madigan, the study's co-author, told Reuters Health that the findings suggest that better balance could be a primary benefit of losing weight.

Madigan added that this research was only a preliminary study and more research is still needed.

The researchers plan to see if weight loss and strength training can prevent real-world falls, and also plan to see if results are similar for older adults, who have the greatest risk of fall-related injuries.

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