NIH creates mathematical model to predict weight changes in the body

November 17, 2017

The model also points to a potential simplified method to approximate weight loss in an average overweight person. An adult who has a body mass index (a measure of a person's weight in relation to his or her height) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. One example: For every pound you want to lose, permanently cut 10 calories from your current intake per day. At that rate, it will take about one year to achieve half of the total weight loss, and almost all of the weight loss will have occurred by three years. This calculation shows how long it takes to achieve a weight-loss goal for a single permanent change of diet or exercise. Researchers can use the web simulation tool to plan for a phase of more-rapid weight loss followed by a weight maintenance phase. People should consult with their physician prior to embarking on a diet plan.

"By using our model to track progress, clinicians can help people re-evaluate their goals and ability to achieve them at the pace they want," Hall said. "It's a good reality check for how long weight-loss takes, and what changes in eating and exercise are required to achieve and maintain goal weight."

Moving toward that goal, a more comprehensive mathematical model of human metabolism was used recently to design an NIH clinical trial that is comparing the effects of reducing fats versus carbohydrates in obese adults. Hall and collaborators also published findings in the May 11 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition illustrating a method for precisely measuring how much a person's eating changed when he or she went on a diet.

"This research illustrates how the interdisciplinary skills of NIH scientists, like a physicist doing obesity research, can help lead to innovative ways to test, understand and treat a major public health epidemic," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D. "Advancing research from the laboratory to the bedside enables us to make the discoveries that can better people's lives."

Source: NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases