Glum about ‘Biggest Loser’ study? Stay calm, carry on weight watching

In her last week of the competition, Toy bid on and won a "growing pound" advantage for the weigh-ins, which would increase each week. In the interest of preserving it, Jen advised her not to use it right away. But that week, Toy went from 282 to 278 pounds, losing only four pounds - not enough to keep her in the game.

A ‘Loser’ contestant with coach. (Copyright NBC)

If you’re staring at that chocolate éclair or slice of apple pie ala mode with special guilt after reading about the weight woes of extreme contestants on a popular television show, fret a wee bit less, please.

It’s true that many pound-conscious people have hit the doldrums after reading in the New York Times that experts monitored some contestants of the hit show, The Biggest Loser, for years after their TV appearances to see if they kept their slimming ways. Nope. Many didn’t.

Researchers found that their metabolisms showed to a crawl, causing them to regain pounds until they got near their previous weights. Those who exercised and watched their diet relentlessly fared better. But it was a struggle. Surprised? Don’t be. The experts said the number of patients  studied was too small to draw big conclusions about weight loss. This study and others are beginning to show that basic issues in the brain and body, not sloth or lack of personal control, influence weight and its gain.

Other experts also note that the metabolic slowdown the TV contestants experienced, like their starting weight and loss, was extreme. It may not be totally pertinent to whether more ordinary folks like you and me are guaranteed to blow up after a calorie-laden dessert.

As I’ve written before, obesity is a major issue for Americans, and many of us struggle with unhealthy weight. But moderation matters. Eat sensibly and well, exercise in the same way. It can work for most of us.

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