A study of people on a reality TV show, The Biggest Loser, which challenges obese people to lose weight, found that they are now condemned to a lifetime battle with food as their bodies strive to get back to their original weight.
And to make matters worse they are no longer able to burn calories at the rate they once did.
The show had been criticised previously for irresponsibility in promoting drastic weight loss through dieting and fitness. Almost all the original contestants from 2009 have now returned to their original weight with many now heavier than before.
The study was carried out by Dr Kevin Hall at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Maryland, USA. Analysis of their metabolic rates shows that they are physically unable to process a normal number of daily calories.
Danny Cahill was the winner in season 8 (2009) when he dropped from 30.7 stones to 13.6 stones (i.e. losing 239 lbs). He now weighs more than 21 stone despite only eating 800 calories a day – less than half a man his size should eat.
Dr Hall’s study also revealed that almost all the contestants battled with hunger pangs and cravings which had risen dramatically since they appeared on the show.
During the extreme bouts of dieting their levels of the hormone leptin, which helps to control hunger, dropped to almost nothing which would have made the contestants ravenous all the time. Once they started eating normally again the leptin levels rose but to only half the previous levels.
Rachel Batterham, from the centre for obesity research at University College London, said “tampering with the body’s predisposition to fight weight loss will result in uncontrollable weight gains in almost all cases. These changes do not reverse once the person returned to their previously higher weight – they continue”
Source: The Times
Medical academics at Washington University found that even a small amount of weight loss benefitted obese people. Losing just 5% weight reduces body fat and other risk factors for heart disease.
They said “The guidelines for treating obesity recommend a 5 to 10% weight loss but losing 5% is much easier than 10%.
If you weigh 200 lbs you will be doing yourself a favour if you can lose 10 lbs and keep it off. You don’t have to lose 50 lbs to get important health benefits“