Research Shows Human Body Resists Weight Loss
The human body is inherently resistant to losing weight. That’s the finding of research presented to an international obesity convention by Dr. Neil King of Queensland (Australia) University of Technology and the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI).
Dr. King’s two weight loss studies followed induced energy deficits in two groups of overweight subjects. They clearly showed the “plateau effect”, the phenomenon of weight loss stalling after an initial period of dropping pounds. “The ‘plateau effect’ has been known about for some time and weight management consultants recommend longer exercise times, higher intensity or cross training to combat it,” he said. “But these studies show that a plateau in body weight occurs even in the face of a continued negative energy balance.”
The first study group of 30 obese persons of both sexes participated in an exercise-only weight loss program with five controlled, laboratory-based exercise sessions per week. The second group was of men only using a commercial program that combined diet counseling and exercise. Dr. King explained, “In the first study, the subjects’ energy deficit was caused by exercise only which was fixed and imposed, in contrast to the second study where subjects used diet and exercise to lose weight but chose how much they did of each.”
The first group’s weight loss during the first 8 weeks was an average of 3 kg, then it “plateaued”, with much smaller rate of loss at .7 kg during the following 4 weeks. The second, less controlled group experienced a varied rate of weight loss but it too hit a plateau.
Dr. King noted, “There appears to be little at this stage to predict the onset, duration and frequency of the plateau. My research now aims to identify and characterise mechanisms responsible for our inbuilt weight loss resistance.” He said that ancestral human energy balance mechanisms evolved to deal with periods of shortage and famine,”not the current obesogenic environment which enforces inactivity and a plentiful food supply.”
His research results were presented in 2006, to the Physical Activity and Obesity Satellite Conference of the International Congress on Obesity (ICO2006) in Brisbane and at the International Conference on Obesity in Sydney.
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