That’s the line I hear most often in response to the Biggest Loser study. They lost the weight the WRONG WAY.
The person continues: The study doesn’t show that sustained weight loss is impossible, just that speedy weight loss cannot be sustained. Who on earth would have thought that starvation style boot camp is the way to go? All the study shows is that fast weight loss that comes about through harsh means isn’t sustainable.
Yay. There’s still hope, say people (like me) who’d like to weigh less.
Come buy our program, say weight loss companies, we’ll show you the right way.
While I like the idea that moderately achieved weight loss is more likely to be sustained, the facts don’t seem to bear that out. Not everything that sounds true, is true. Not everything we’d like to be true, is true. Sadly.
Here’s Gina Kolata in the Globe and Mail answering hard questions about weight loss:
Are you more likely to maintain weight loss if you lose weight slowly?
That is the advice dieters often get, but studies have not found that to be the case. For example, a recent Australian study, funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation, randomly assigned 204 obese people to subsist on just 450 to 800 calories a day for 12 weeks, or to cut a more modest 400 to 500 calories a day from their diets over 36 weeks. The goal for both groups was a 15-per-cent weight loss. Three years after the study began, almost everyone had regained the weight they lost, despite counselling on diet and exercise. There was also no difference in levels of two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, that drive hunger. The main difference between the groups was that more people in the rapid weight loss group lost at least 12.5 per cent of their weight (80 per cent as compared with 50 per cent in the slow loss group) and fewer dropped out (3 per cent as compared with 18 per cent).
I’ve written too about slow versus speedy weight loss.
And about the claim that gradual weight loss is no better than fast weight loss when it comes to sustaining the new lower weight.
More later about the traits people who do sustain weight loss have in common. Warning: It’s also not good news.