“Biggest Loser” Reality TV highlights an option for diabetics!

Interesting research on the outcomes of “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show highlight important news for diabetics! According to Robert Huizenga, MD , the medical advisor for the show, diabetic and prediabetic contestants were off medications within a few weeks of starting the intensive exercise regimen that are part of the intervention.    The contestants who were part of the study, averaged about 5-6 hours of TV watching a day and they were exercising about 120 minutes per week BEFORE they went on the show.   The exercise regimen while on the show comprised about 4 hours of daily exercise that included intense aerobics and resistance training for 2 hours and another 2 hours of moderate aerobics.

The study consisted of 17 men and 18 women who were followed for 24 weeks; 17 participants had normal glucose tolerance, 12 had prediabetes; 6 had diabetes.  The mean weight was 315 lbs!

Within one week biomarkers for those with prediabetes/diabetes improved significantly.   A positive change in blood pressure was almost immediately noticed and everyone was off their blood pressure medications within 5 weeks!

Interestingly, by week 5, “all diagnostic criteria for prediabetes, diabetes, and hypertension were absent in each participant, despite discontinuation of all diabetes and hypertension medications,” according to the study.

Huizenga and colleagues found that at 24 weeks, the percentage of body fat decreased from 48% to 30%, which Huizenga said is “somewhat more than is lost with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.”    He found that the participants tended to sit less after going through the program.

At the end of the program, participants are told to exercise for 90 minutes a day for the rest of their lives. Huizenga said he is often told by those listening to him that a daily 90-minute exercise regimen is impossible because everyone has such busy lives.  He replies,  “It’s about setting priorities. Time is not the issue; priorities are the issue.”

Primary source: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
Huizenga R, et al “Rapid resolution of diabetes related risk markers and hypertension in morbidly obese individuals with an exercise-centric intense lifestyle intervention” AACE 2012; Abstract 1330.