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Objective: To measure long-term changes in resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body composition in participants of “The Biggest Loser” competition. Methods: Body composition was measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and RMR was determined by indirect calorimetry at baseline, at the end of the 30-week competition and 6 years later. Metabolic adaptation was defined as the residual RMR after adjusting for changes in body composition and age. Results: Of the 16 “Biggest Loser” competitors originally investigated, 14 participated in this follow-up study. Weight loss at the end of the competition was (mean ± SD) 58.3 ± 24.9 kg (P < 0.0001), and RMR decreased by 610 ± 483 kcal/day (P = 0.0004). After 6 years, 41.0 ± 31.3 kg of the lost weight was regained (P = 0.0002), while RMR was 704 ± 427 kcal/day below baseline (P < 0.0001) and metabolic adaptation was −499 ± 207 kcal/day (P < 0.0001). Weight regain was not significantly correlated with metabolic adaptation at the competition's end (r = −0.1, P = 0.75), but those subjects maintaining greater weight loss at 6 years also experienced greater concurrent metabolic slowing (r = 0.59, P = 0.025). Conclusions: Metabolic adaptation persists over time and is likely a proportional, but incomplete, response to contemporaneous efforts to reduce body weight.
Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., Knuth, N. D., Brychta, R., … Hall, K. D. (2016). Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity, 24(8), 1612–1619. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21538