Study On The Biggest Loser Shows Long-Term Effect Of Diet and Exercise

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

The holidays are coming up, and it can be a dangerous trap for those trying to lose weight. However, researchers have found that while diet is an important factor, exercise plays an important role as well. A new study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease (NIDDK) recently revealed that modest diet and exercise could help decrease body fat and sustain muscle in adults.

The study, conducted under the National Institutes of Health, was recently featured in the online edition of Obesity. The findings showcased that both diet and exercise play a role in weight loss, as opposed to only diet alone. Researchers looked at data from 11 participants of “The Biggest Loser,” a reality television show on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) that showcases obese adults who lose weight over a number of months. The scientists specifically studied the impact of a restricted diet and strenuous exercise regime.

“By including the show’s contestants as voluntary study participants, this research took advantage of a cost-efficient opportunity to study a small group of obese individuals already engaged in an intensive lifestyle intervention,” remarked NIDDK senior investigator Kevin Hall, who is unaffiliated with the television program, in a prepared statement.

In the project, the researchers found the body fat, resting metabolic rate (amount of energy that was used during periods of inactivity), and total energy expenditure of participants at the start of the program, during the third week, and at week 30. Week 30 was also the week in which participants returned home after training at an isolated ranch for 17 weeks. The average weight loss in the program was 128 pounds, with approximately 82 percent pounds lost due to reduction of body fat and the other 98 percent based off the preservation of lean tissue. The researchers believe that the preservation of lean tissue brought a number of benefits to the individuals, including maintaining strength and mobility while also lowering the risk of injury.

To calculate the changes in diet and exercise along with the weight loss, the scientists utilized a mathematical computer model that focused on the differences in human metabolism. The computer model looked at the results due to specifically diet and exercise as opposed to other factors that may have been involved. Through an exercise simulation, they determined that participants who adapted moderate lifestyle changes could keep their weight loss and prevent weight gain; these small changes included activities like participating in 20 minutes of daily intense exercise or decreasing calories by 20 percent .

“This study reinforces the need for a healthy diet and exercise in our daily lives,” remarked Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, NIDDK Director, in the statement. “It also illustrates how the science of metabolism and mathematical modeling can be used to develop sound recommendations for sustainable weight loss – an important tool in the treatment of obesity – based on an individual´s unique circumstances.”

The research comes at the right time. According to the NIH, over two-thirds of U.S. adults who are 20 years and older are overweight or obese. As well, over one-third of adults are considered obese. Individuals who are considered obese have a greater risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.

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