Why so many contestants on 'The Biggest Loser' gain back weight they lost
Six years ago, Danny Cahill set out on a journey to lose weight. And not just a bit of belly fat. Cahill weighed more than 400 pounds. He applied to be a contestant on The Biggest Loser, an NBC extreme weight-loss reality show and he made the cut.
At the end of the show, the scale read 191 pounds — the most weight any contestant on the show had ever lost.
But despite Cahill's efforts, the pounds came back. Six years after the show, his weight sits just shy of 300 pounds. And a new study — which Cahill participated in — could help explain why so many people find it difficult to keep off the weight they have lost.
"After these folks lost a tremendous amount of weight, they experienced a much greater than expected slowing of metabolism -- several hundred calories a day slower than you would expect for someone of that new body size," Dr. Kevin Hall tells As It Happens host Carol Off.
"I always chalked it up to a lack of willpower. But this actually shows that there is science to my body, that is fighting against me and making it hard," Cahill tells Off.
Hall says he was amazed to learn through his research that the more extreme the weight loss and the more dedicated the person was to keeping off the pounds, the harder the body worked to gain back the weight.
"It's the folks that were most successful in maintaining the lost weight, that were continuing to experience the greatest pull back, the greatest slowing of metabolism," says Hall, who studied metabolism with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Cahill says the study should send a message to people who think obesity is simply a matter of laziness.
"Overweight obese people aren't lazy, necessarily. If you asked my wife, 'Is Danny a lazy person?' she'd say, 'He is the least lazy person you'd ever meet.' 'So, how'd he get to 585 pounds?' It was a combination of addiction, lifestyle, and now we're finding out — science."
For more on Danny Cahill's story, take a listen to our full interview.