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‘Biggest Loser’ Study Shows Why It’s So Hard To Lose Weight

Most contestants have put the weight back on

Back in 2009, Danny Cahill from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma was the winner of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Cahill was 5’11 and weighed 430 pounds at the show’s onset and would end up losing 239 pounds in just seven months. But seven years later, Cahill is 100 pounds heavier than when he won the reality show, and his weight gain is typical. Most of the show’s participants have gained back nearly all of the weight they lost after leaving the show. The reason for their inability to keep off the weight? It’s all about their metabolism.


Researcher and admitted reality-TV buff, Dr. Kevin Hall from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, decided to follow Biggest Loser contestants’ post-show lives for as long as six years to study their weight. What he found was “frightening and amazing,” Hall told The New York Times. When the show began, the contestants had normal metabolisms, but the arduous exercise and dieting during the show made their metabolisms slow dramatically. So when they returned to normal life, they weren’t burning enough calories to maintain their new sizes. Researchers have known that after a successful diet, the average person’s metabolism slows, but the Biggest Loser study revealed just how dramatic the change can be.

Dr. Hall’s research revealed the scary truth about weight loss that people never talk about: Our bodies fight us to put the pounds back on. “The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, an obesity and diabetes researcher, told The New York Times. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”

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