Tag Archives: Dr. Robert Huizenga

Is Heavy Exercise a Reasonable Approach to Obese Diabetes?

Women DO NOT get gross bulky muscles from resistance training

With regards to TV’s “The Biggest Loser” show:

The show’s 24-week regimen consists of approximately 4 hours of daily exercise, including 1 hour of intense resistance, 1 hour of intense aerobic activity, and 2 hours of moderate aerobic activity (for example, walking), along with a caloric  intake of at least 70% of estimated resting daily energy expenditure, explained Dr. [Robert] Huizenga, who is a a former team physician to the L.A. Raiders football team.

This is an excerpt from “The Biggest Loser Pushes Envelope on Diabetes,” in Internal Medicine News, vol. 45, No.11, page 17.

In a previous post about The Biggest Loser, I’d written that I didn’t know how much they exercised.

For purposes of discussion, let’s assume the documented major weight losses of Biggest Loser contestants are not simply due to caloric restriction.

Dr. Huizenga shared some of his experience at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.  In a study of 35 Biggest Loser participants, about half had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.  Hemoglobin A1c, a measure of blood sugar control, fell significantly in this subset.  Three of the six with diabetes were able to stop metformin early on.  By week 29 of the study, average body mass index for the entire group had fallen from 46 to 29.

Sure, this is a small study, but my clinical intuition is that results are reproducible on a larger scale.  Television exposure and the $250,000 (USD) prize to the winning contestant are major motivators.  Furthermore, I bet there’s also a process for weeding out those who are likely to fail, before they ever get started.

Yes, exercise helps with weight loss.  But most folks aren’t willing or able to exercise vigorously for almost four hour daily.  If I were an obese sedentary diabetic, I’d sure try.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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