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Metabolic Response to Weight Loss Varies Greatly

‘Thrifty’ metabolism possibly contributing to less weight lost

TUESDAY, May 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) — ‘Thrifty’ metabolism might sabotage weight loss efforts for some, according to a study published online May 11 in Diabetes.

“The results corroborate the idea that some people who are obese may have to work harder to lose weight due to metabolic differences,” lead author Martin Reinhardt, M.D., from the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch of the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said in an institute news release.

The small laboratory study included 12 obese men and women who underwent tests to assess their body’s energy use in response to a day of fasting. This was followed by six weeks of reduced calorie intake. After accounting for factors such as age, sex, and race, the researchers found that participants who lost the least amount of weight during the six weeks of reducing calorie intake were those whose metabolism decreased the most during fasting. These people have what the researchers called a “thrifty” metabolism, as opposed to the “spendthrift” metabolism in participants who lost the most weight and whose metabolism decreased the least during fasting.

It’s not known if people are born with different metabolic responses to lower calorie intake, or if they develop over time. Further research is needed to determine if these individual responses can be used to prevent weight gain, the study authors said. “What we’ve learned from this study may one day enable a more personalized approach to help people who are obese achieve a healthy weight,” Griffin Rodgers, M.D., director of the Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said in the news release.

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