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Description: There have been millions of words written, spoken, and even yelled, about how to lose weight, about how many, many of us in North American MUST lose weight and about how failure of weight loss efforts, or failure to sustain weight loss, likely reflects a lack of will power on the part of the failed losers (a phrase interpreted widely and harshly). What comes to mind when you think about these areas of media chatter? What have you heard or what do you believe is behind the high levels of obesity? Have you heard of the TV show The Biggest Loser and if so have you heard, or what do you think is, the most typical longer term outcome for those who participate in and “do well” on the show? Is key to weight loss eating fewer carbs? Eating less fat? Simply eating less? What do you think would happen, longer term, if a sample of people agreed to spending 8 months, hospitalized and on a low-calorie liquid diet for 8 months and who, at the end of 8 months had lost an average of 100 pounds? “They gained it all, and in some cases more, back,” would be the right answer but would a lack of will power be the explanation? What about a group of people who, as due to cultural norms that highly value an overweight body image, spend weeks “overeating” by a significant amount? Would they keep the weight that they gain? The answer is no. Think about what might be the common causal denominator in these two scenarios involving significant weight loss or weight gain respectively and then, with your hypotheses in mind, read the article linked below to see what researchers have to say.

Source: Don’t blame fat. Don’t Blame carbs. Blame your brain for your weight-loss troubles, Mark Schatzker, The Globe and Mail.

Date: November 14, 2021

Image by Bru-nO from Pixabay

Article Link:

You may have heard previously about the tendency for our bodies (brains) to adjust our metabolisms when they encounter the “famine” of a weight-loss program involving food (calorie or carbs or fat) restrictions. The article suggests that these mechanisms work BOTH ways (with weight loss AND weight) gain to maintain a weight set-point. What is missing from the linked article? Well, its last one suggests it. “… only by understanding that hidden aspect of ourselves [the brain control of weight] can we hope to at last eat well and be well.” More research IS needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the key to effective weight loss (fat intake, carbohydrate intake, total calorie intact and will power)?
  2. If one of the above choices does not fit, what does?
  3. Outline some research strategies that would potentially begin to shed some light on the brain mechanisms in weight monitoring and suggest strategies to effective adjust weight over time and stabilize those changes longer term?

References (Read Further):

Glucksman, M. L., & Hirsch, J. (1968). The response of obese patients to weight reduction: a clinical evaluation of behavior. Psychosomatic Medicine, 30(1), 1-11. Link

Kolata, G. (2007). Genes Take Charge, and Diets Fall by the Wayside. New York Times, 5(8), 2007. Link

Kolata, G. (2016). After ‘the biggest loser,’their bodies fought to regain weight. New York Times, 2. Link

Hall, K. D., & Guo, J. (2017). Obesity energetics: body weight regulation and the effects of diet composition. Gastroenterology, 152(7), 1718-1727. Link

De Garine, I., & Koppert, G. J. (1991). Guru‐fattening sessions among the Massa. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 25(1), 1-28. Link

Makaronidis, J. M., & Batterham, R. L. (2018). Obesity, body weight regulation and the brain: insights from fMRI. The British journal of radiology, 91(1089), 20170910. Link

Kringelbach, M. L. (2015). The pleasure of food: underlying brain mechanisms of eating and other pleasures. Flavour, 4(1), 1-12. Link

Szabo-Reed, A. N., Breslin, F. J., Lynch, A. M., Patrician, T. M., Martin, L. E., Lepping, R. J., … & Savage, C. R. (2015). Brain function predictors and outcome of weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Contemporary clinical trials, 40, 218-231. Link

Kotz, C., Nixon, J., Butterick, T., Perez-Leighton, C., Teske, J., & Billington, C. (2012). Brain orexin promotes obesity resistance. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1264(1), 72. Link