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Physiology Not Created Equally

by Roxxi Li on June 9, 2015
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Have you ever wondered if it’s true that certain people lose weight easier than others do? Evidence supporting this notion has been found by researchers at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch. It turns out that this commonly held belief that people with different physiologies lose weight at a different rate may not be merely a widespread suspicion after all. Currently, it is not yet determined whether the biological differences are innate versus developed over time. Therefore, additional research is warranted to find out whether individual responses to caloric restriction can be utilized in weight gain prevention.

This study involved 12 obese men and women and used a whole-room indirect calorimeter. Indirect calorimetry calculates a person’s energy expenditure using air samples. The participants followed a six week inpatient period of 50% calorie restriction during the study. The researchers took note of several factors including age, sex, race, weight and baseline. They found some people lost more weight than others during the study period. Those that lost the least amount of weight during the calorie-restricted phase also had the most decreased metabolism during fasting. The researchers say that these people have a “thrifty metabolism,” versus a “spendthrift” metabolism which was seen in the participants that had the least metabolic reduction as well as the highest weight loss.

Author of the study, Susanne Votruba, Ph.D. explains that a “thifty” metabolism could possibly contribute to an individual’s reduced weight loss. When obese individuals reduce the amount of food they eat, the way their metabolism responds varies greatly. She points out that, of course, behavioral factors including adherence to diet does affect weight loss to an extent. However, their study suggests that a larger picture which takes into account individual physiology should be considered. Martin Reinhardt, M.D., lead author of the study states that their results validate the notion that certain people who are obese might have to work harder to lose weight as a result of metabolic differences. However, he points out, that biology is not necessarily destiny, and a balanced diet along with regular physical activity can be extremely effective for weight loss over the long-term. Another scientist, Griffin Rodgers, M.D., states that the findings of this study may allow for a more personalized approach of helping people achieve weight loss one day.

 

 

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