For decades, there’s been a persistent one-size-fits-all approach to treating obesity: Embrace a diet that’s low in calories. Yet evidence shows that this diet-focused approach simply doesn’t work for a subset of adults with obesity who are adherent in a clinical weight management program.
Now, compelling new research published today in the journal eBioMedicine challenges the deeply ingrained idea that diet alone should be adequate for everyone seeking to shed pounds.
The important conclusions could significantly improve public health by guiding the advent of personalized treatment plans that will help individuals with difficult-to-treat obesity lose weight – and keep it off.
“It’s exciting and important work. These findings have clinical implications and reveal molecular mechanisms that will drive research for many years to come,” says Dr. Mary-Ellen Harper, an award-winning professor and research chair in mitochondrial bioenergetics at the uOttawa Faculty of Medicine who was the study’s senior author.
Here’s the basic idea: Understanding distinct obesity phenotypes is key to teasing out insights into individual variations in weight loss. And for “diet-resistant” obesity— patients in the bottom 20% for rate of weight loss following a low-calorie diet—exercise training should be prioritized, as it decreases fat mass and boosts skeletal muscle metabolism.
The research team mined clinical data from over 5,000 records. Ultimately, 228 files were reviewed and a subset of 20 women with obesity were identified to undergo a closely supervised exercise program made up of 18 progressive sessions using treadmills and weights done three times per week for six weeks.
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