Can’t lose weight by dieting alone? Researchers have bad news for you

For those starving themselves to cut calories but still not seeing results, you are not alone.

Researchers at the University of Ottowa have identified a distinct group of obese people who are particularly resistant to weight loss through dietary changes alone, according to a report published Wednesday in the Lancet journal eBioMedicine.

The results contradict a long-held belief that diet alone is enough to cause significant weight loss, with exercise added as an additional treatment to help reinforce the benefits of healthy eating.

“If you look at a large group of people who are overweight and trying to lose weight, they don’t respond very much to exercise. But now we’ve found that people in this [diet-resistant] the obesity phenotype really does,” said endocrinologist Dr. Robert Dent, who collaborated with his Ottowa colleagues, Drs. Mary-Ellen Harper, Chantal Pileggi and Ruth McPhereson on the study.

“What the results tell us is that when we see obese people who are not meeting dietary restrictions, they should be redirected to physical activity,” Dent explained in a statement for the Newsroom. ‘university.

People considered to have “diet resistant” obesity are in the lower 20% for the rate of weight loss while following a calorie-restricted diet. These are the people for whom exercise should be a priority, doctors say.

Based on the clinical records of over 5,000 patients, 20 of these women were asked to participate in a training program designed to analyze changes in skeletal muscle metabolism – a critical indicator of health in metabolic patients. .

Fat metabolism in skeletal muscle is regulated by mitochondria, and “diet-resistant” obese people have lower mitochondrial activity in their bones than those with “diet-sensitive” obesity, the researchers said.

The participants were put through a total of 18 workouts, three times a week for six weeks, involving treadmills and weightlifting.

For the group already disadvantaged in mitochondria, exercise was shown to boost skeletal muscle activity, while those with comparatively higher mitochondrial activity at the start of the experiment saw no additional benefit from this. regard.

For decades, “diet resistant” patients have been blamed for not adhering to a low-calorie meal plan, based on a lack of lost pounds. Now the researchers hope their new approach will lead to more tailored care.

“This is exciting and important work. These findings have clinical implications and reveal molecular mechanisms that will spur research for many years to come,” said Harper, whose team hopes to relaunch their study soon with an even larger cohort.

Obesity has been called an epidemic here in the United States, where more than a third of adults (41.9%) age 20 and older weigh too much, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Add overweight adults who are just below clinical obesity and the percentage rises to three-quarters (73.6%).

The consequences of carrying too much weight are high – with an increased risk of developing deadly and debilitating diseases across the board, including diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal disorders and several types of cancer. The condition is also known to weaken the immune system, which makes overweight people more susceptible to illnesses, such as COVID-19.

“For people who are obese and have had tremendous difficulty losing weight, the message for them is: you are in a group of people for whom exercise is particularly important,” said added McPhereson. “And it’s really going to help you lose weight.”

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