Weight loss programs may be focusing too much on the consequences of being overweight and not enough on how much better people feel once they've lost even a few pounds.

In a pilot study at the University of Cincinnati, study participants reported a 20-30% reduction in overall body pain after weight loss. The researchers say their results suggest that even small weight loss can relieve the burden excess weight places on the body and a lead to a more pain-free life.

Weight loss programs tend to…rely more on the threat of obesity to health than on how good people will feel when they lose even a little weight.

What stands out from the results isn't so much the numbers, but an idea: lose ten pounds now, and you'll immediately start feeling better.

The researchers claim that their results challenge people in charge of weight loss programs to rethink the way they structure them. Weight loss programs tend to focus on the long term health threats obesity pose: higher risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious conditions. And they also tend to rely more on the threat of obesity to health than on how good people will feel when they lose even a little weight. They rely too much on the stick, with little or no carrot as incentive.

And by all indications, current weight loss programs aren't working very well.

According to the Mayo Clinic, about one in three Americans is currently considered obese. And that doesn't even count the millions who are overweight, but not so overweight that they're classed as obese.

Maybe a different approach to weight loss would work better.

The study followed 35 women for 12 weeks. The women had recently enrolled in a weight loss program and were age 22-76. They visited a weight loss clinic every two weeks, where they were weighed and filled out questionnaires about their overall pain and specific pain in nine body regions.

Significant associations were found between weight loss and overall pain reduction, as well as pain reduction in the elbow, hip, and both the upper and lower back.

Gravity never quits. Even losing a small number of pounds reduces the force of gravity on all body parts. Less force means less pain. Lose a little more weight and things can only get better.

An article on the study was published in the August 2, 2010 issue of the journal Work.