A six-year study has found that some contestents on NBC’s “Biggest Loser” who lost hundreds of pounds gained much of the weight back, and provided clues to scientists about why many people fail to keep off lost weight.
The New York Times reported Monday that most of that 16 contestants in 2009 regained much if not all the weight they lost, and four are heavier that before joining the show.
“It is frightening and amazing,” said Kevin Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. “I am just blown away.”
According to the Times, Hall, a fan of the show, decided to follow the contestants for six years after the end of Season 8. The project was the first to measure what happens to people after they lost large amounts of weight with intensive dieting and exercise. The study’s findings are being published in the journal Obesity.
The issue has to do with resting metabolism, which determines how many calories a person burns when at rest.
When the show began, the contestants, though hugely overweight, had normal metabolisms for their size, meaning they were burning a normal number of calories for people of their weight. When it ended, their metabolisms had slowed radically and their bodies were not burning enough calories to maintain their thinner sizes.
As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants’ metabolisms did not recover. They became even slower, and the pounds kept piling on.
As an example, Danny Cahill, who won the contest that season, went from 430 pounds to 191 in seven months, a drop of 239 pounds. Since, he was regained more than 100 pounds, according to the report. However, his metabolism slowed so much that he has to eat only 800 calories a day to just to maintain his current weight of 295.