Data courtesy of reality TV just delivered an astonishing finding to obesity science. Tracking former contestants on TV’s wildly popular The Biggest Loser, researchers found that the reason most of the “losers” gained back much (if not all) of the weight they shed is because the metabolism wants that weight. It goes on strike, pretty much, until it gets the weight back. An article in the New York Times focuses on one of the most famous winners, Danny Cahill, who dropped more than 230 pounds on the show in 2009. Despite gaining back more than 100 pounds, Cahill’s metabolism remained slowed.
When people — and not just obese reality TV contestants — lose weight, their resting metabolisms slow. That much was known. But the latest research indicates that once a metabolism slows, it stays slow even as the weight comes back on. It’s as if the weight loss alters the metabolism so that it can’t re-regulate itself. Turned down, it doesn’t turn back up. The study, called “Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after The Biggest Loser competition”, appears in the journal Obesity.
— Julia Belluz (@juliaoftoronto) May 2, 2016