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May 21, 2013 06:23 PM

Brody: Many Fronts in the Obesity War

In today's (21 May) The New York Times, Jane Brody is writing about multiple factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. In it, she makes this statement that caught my attention:

"If a person's weight drops to 150 pounds from 250, significantly fewer calories must be consumed daily to stay at that weight than would be necessary if the person had never been overweight."

Brody offers no references and I am unable to find support for it elsewhere. I don't believe it myself, but if there is such an effect, there must be more to it, taking into account how the person came to be overweight. What do you think?

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  1. What do I think? I think obsessing about body size and type rather than actual matters pertaining health (access to nutritious foods and health care for everyone; road design that favours transportation alternatives over motorists) is both hateful and a waste of time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Lizard

      Interesting, but not germane to the question.

      1. re: GH1618

        The question was 'what do you think' and was buried in a frame of a war against body type (rather than a pursuit of health). I think it's incredibly germane, even if its relevance is not visible to you.

      1. re: maxie

        That's what I was looking for. Thank you.

        1. re: GH1618

          But I think we need to be careful to not over-interpret. To my mind the data don't distinguish between the following possibilities (and there are other possibilities also):
          a) Does the resting metabolic rate (RMR) of people who have lost a lot of weight tend to be lower than it would have been if those individuals had never been obese?
          b) Did these individuals tend to have an inherently lower-than-usual RMR from the start, and that contributed to their originally becoming obese?

          It's hard to separate out cause and consequence. As in so much of medical science....

          1. re: drongo

            I completely agree. There are always confounding factors which need to be considered, and a single study is rarely definitive. Still interesting, though.

      2. Maybe Brody is referring to research about fat cells? I think I read somewhere about creating an excess of fat cells (that never go away, only shrink) when you gain weight, then losing the weight still means having an excess of fat cells that easily grow with any excess glucose. Maybe you can find it by googling fat cells and glucose?

        1 Reply
        1. re: sedimental

          I've been told before that the number of fat cells remains constant in adult life, and is determined during puberty/teenage years. And as you've said, they can shrink, but never be obliterated. If true (and I'm no nutritionist) it's another factor in childhood and teenage obesity transferring to adult obesity. I'm not sure if this scientifically makes it harder to lose weight, but I'll bet it works like muscle memory - the body has extra 'room' for fat/knows just where to store it.

          My thoughts about the OP...I think this is a risk of achieving weight loss through calorie restriction alone rather than a focus on a nutritious diet and active lifestyle. The human body is a self-calibrating machine - the less you give it, the more efficient it becomes at conserving energy.

        2. losing weight does not necessarily increase your resting heart rate, which is a large determinant of your caloric requirements

          1. what about when one gains weight- even a lot of weight- for pg but then loses it?