Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Could "Psychological Stress" Explain The Biggest Losers' Metabolisms?

Seems extremely unlikely to me only in that there's no obvious pathophysiological mechanism that could help to explain why the show's psychological distress led to permanent and disproportionate metabolic adaptation.

And though that's what I told the reporter from the New York Post, she left out the "doubtful" proviso and left in the "possible".

The thing is, it's unclear why The Biggest Loser's contestants' metabolisms seem slower than would be expected simply as a consequence to weight loss. They're also slower than the metabolisms of patients who've had bariatric surgery and lost similar amounts of weight.

Could their greater degrees of metabolic adaptation be due to the nature of the show itself? Sure. But as I told the reporter Maureen Callahan, over and over again in fact, it's also possible that losing 40-50% of your body weight without surgery, regardless of approach, is responsible.

And yes, despite what the article misquoted me as saying, plenty of people have lost 40-50% of their body weights without surgery, but generally those losses occur with extremes of effort (like they do on The Biggest Loser). What I'd like to know is whether or not losing comparable amounts of weight slowly would lead to similar outcomes?

That'd be a challenging thing to figure out because losing that much weight slowly is a rarity. Of course that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, it just means that it's rare. It also means that randomizing people to lose 40-50% of their body weights with non-extreme efforts isn't feasible.

Lastly, though I think when it comes to weight loss The Biggest Loser's Dr. Huizenga is either deluded, unethical, or clueless, I never claimed to know him personally.

Bottom line. The Biggest Loser is a horror show (I've written extensively about it over the years), but so too is Maureen Callaghan's reporting on it for The New York Post.