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What we’re learning from ‘The Biggest Loser’

Fri, May 6, 2016

The body makes it hard to keep the weight off

 

Successful contestants on the NBC weight-loss reality show, “The Biggest Loser,” seem to have a tough time maintaining their svelte figures once the show’s over.

 

There’s a reason for that, according to new research published in a recent issue of the journal Obesity. Researchers peered into the lives of 14 former contestants and found many regain much of the weight they lost in the show. Why? Because their biology works against them.

 

During the show, the contestants competed to see who would shed the most weight after seven months of dieting and exercise. The average weight loss was 100 pounds. But after leaving the spotlight, only one of the 14 contestants avoided weight gain. The research attributed that to issues with the contestants’ resting metabolic rate.

 

When people lose weight, the number of daily calories required to meet their body’s needs drops. Higher weight means more calories are needed. With weight loss, the caloric need, also known as a resting metabolic rate, slows in response to body size. However, in the new study, when the participants regained weight, their resting metabolic rate stayed low and didn’t adapt back to the higher rate, when their weight was higher. It then became harder to shed pounds again.

 

The contestants’ weight struggles offer an interesting explanation for why it’s so hard to make headway against obesity, said Dr. Daniel T. McKenna, a bariatric surgeon with Aurora BayCare Bariatrics. He was not involved in the research.

 

“In reviewing the study, it essentially says when it comes to weight loss, sometimes even the most dedicated individuals are hindered by their own bodies,” McKenna said. “But there’s hope.

 

“We know that one of the best ways of countering the slowed resting metabolic rate after weight loss is through maintaining a healthy diet and increasing physical activity. We encourage and support our patients as they follow that path.”

 

Aurora BayCare Bariatrics offers the latest procedures to help facilitate long-term weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. Call 877-677-5384 for information or request an appointment online.

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BayCare Clinic, baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.