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September 21, 2015

Supersize me ... for science

Six men offer to eat 6,000 calories a day for diabetes research

Temple University scientists gleaned key insight into the link between obesity and diabetes in an experiment that was either delightful or disgusting, depending on your appetite.

They took six healthy, middle-aged men and made them eat 6,000 calories a day without any exercise for one week. (Unsurprisingly, not a single woman volunteered for the study.) They ate standard American fare, like pizza and hamburgers.

“They took to the diet, and liked it,” head researcher Guenther Boden told New Scientist.

Unfortunately, their bodies didn't. The men gain more than a pound each day. Within two days, their bodies were showing signs of insulin resistance.

“By definition, they all developed diabetes,” British researcher Francis Stephens told New Scientist.

Scientists have long known that there's a link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes, but it's hard to tell exactly what bodily mechanism causes that link. The results from the study suggest that the culprit is oxidative damage of a protein that controls blood sugar, writes Newsworks.

The researchers would like to hold another 6,000-calories-a-day experiment where the participants get to exercise. In the meantime, those volunteers will probably want to head to the gym.