Weight loss resistance: A further consideration for the nutritional management of obese Equidae

Caroline M.C.G. Argo*, Gemma C. Curtis, Dai Grove-White, Alexandra H.A. Dugdale, Clare F. Barfoot, Patricia A. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence-based, weight loss management advice is required to address equine obesity. Changes in body mass (BM), body condition score (BCS), heart (HG) and belly circumference (BG), direct (ultrasonographic) and indirect (D2O dilution, bioelectrical impedance analysis [BIA]) measures of body fat as well as indices of insulin resistance (IR) were monitored in 12 overweight (BCS≥7/9) horses and ponies of mixed breed and gender for 16weeks. Animals were randomly assigned to two groups (Group 1, n=6, BCS 7.6/9±0.6, 489±184.6kg; Group 2, n=6, BCS 8.1/9±0.6, 479±191.5kg). Daily dry matter intake (DMI) was restricted to 1.25% BM as one of two, near-isocaloric (DE ∼0.115MJ/kgBM/day), forage-based diets (Group 1, 0.8% BM chaff-based feed: 0.45% BM hay; Group 2, 1.15% BM hay: 0.1% BM nutrient-balancer).Statistical modelling revealed considerable between-animal heterogeneity in proportional weight losses (0.16-0.55% of Week 1 BM weekly). The magnitude of weight loss resistance (WLR) or sensitivity to dietary restriction was independent of diet or any measured outset variable and was largely (65%) attributed to animal identity. Predicted rates of weight loss decreased over time. BCS and BIA were poor estimates of D2O-derived body fat%. Reciprocal changes in depths of retroperitoneal and subcutaneous adipose tissues were evident. Changes in BG were associated with losses in retroperitoneal fat and BM (r2, 0.67 and 0.79). Indices of IR improved for 9/12 animals by Week 16. For obese animals, weight loss should be initiated by restricting forage DMI to 1.25% BM. Subsequent restriction to 1% BM may be warranted for WLR animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Dietary restriction
  • Equine obesity
  • Regional adipose depots
  • Weight loss
  • Weight loss resistance


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