Friday, March 4, 2011

Study Seeks to Supersize Participants

Many of us were both intrigued and repulsed by 2004's movie shocker 'Supersize Me'. Now, a research team from Washington State University in St. Louis wants to take it one step further and track patterns of weight gain among participants on a high-calorie diet, including everyone's favourite - McDonald's!

The researchers wants to determine why some obese people have obesity-related sickness and others don't. The hope is that, using the results of this study and others like it, "better therapies and medications can be developed to break the link between obesity and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease", according to the chief researcher, Dr. Samuel Klein.

Over the course of a four-month study, participants will eat fast food, adding 1,000 extra calories to their daily diets, and seek to increase their weight 5 percent. To do this, they will not only chow down on Big Macs, but also offerings from Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. According to Klein, "We're using fast food because we know the calorie content and the calories are easier to keep under control,...We know how much fat, protein, carbohydrates are in those foods." That's fair enough.

If your insides are hurting just thinking about this study (like mine are), keep in mind that participation in this study was completely voluntary (hey, some people are just curious or really love fast food!). In addition, once the study is over, participants will be enrolled (at no cost to them) in a six-month weight loss program managed by Washington University. In the end, they're expected to lose more weight than they gained. According to Klein, "They'll be healthier when they finish than when they started." That ought to lure quite a few people in, I expect!

I hope the researchers achieve what they seek, but either way, I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this study in the near future!