Texas Tech University

Expert Available to Comment on 'Biggest Loser' Study, Why Weight Maintenance Remains a Challenge

Heidi Toth

May 3, 2016

Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar researches a human adenovirus that causes obesity, yet improves some metabolic factors.

The results of a study published this week in the journal Obesity and highlighted by The New York Times further adds to the complexity known to doctors and researchers about weight loss. The study, which looked at past contestants of the hit reality show “The Biggest Loser,” found most contestants, despite losing hundreds of pounds and acquiring resources to help them keep the weight off, not only put it back on but in some cases were heavier than before.

The likely culprit, researchers found, wasn't old habits but was the body's resting metabolic rate. It fell more quickly than expected, meaning participants were burning fewer calories while at rest, but it did not increase as weight crept on in the intervening years, which explains why some people actually weighed more than they did before the show.

Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar, one of the early adopters of the realization that obesity is a disease with multiple causes and not simply a matter of calories in versus calories out, is available to discuss this research. He is the chairman of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University and immediate past president of The Obesity Society, a premier professional organization of obesity researchers which publishes Obesity. He researches a human adenovirus that causes obesity, yet improves some metabolic factors. This research could lead to a vaccine to prevent a subset of obesity as well as novel anti-diabetic treatments. In addition, he has a strong interest in the treatment of obesity and has treated more than 10,000 patients for obesity. He has a medical degree and a doctorate in biochemistry and, among many honors and many publications, was awarded the 2015 American Society for Nutrition's Osborne and Mendel Award, which recognizes recent outstanding basic research accomplishments in nutrition.

Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar
Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar


Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar,chairman and professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, (806) 834-6446 or nikhil.dhurandhar@ttu.edu


  • "Our bodies have ways to regulate body weight by means that are not necessarily under our willful control. Some people suffer from obesity, which is a chronic, incurable disease. As known to science today, obesity can be controlled but not cured – much like diabetes, where blood sugar levels can be controlled, but diabetes does not go away."
  • "An unfortunate distinction in people's minds: A patient with diabetes is not blamed if he or she controls blood sugar for a few months, but after a while the blood sugar increases again. However, a person suffering from obesity is stigmatized if weight loss cannot be maintained."
  • "There are many biological ways in which our bodies fight against weight loss and try to regain weight. Hence, it is not right to shame or blame someone for inadequate weight loss or the eventual weight gain."
  • "Future research needs to focus on strategies to produce biologically meaningful and sustained weight loss in the majority of people who attempt to lose weight."

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