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Biggest Losers Lose Their Medications: Thoughts on current medical literature & news as it pertains to optimizing our health. June 3, 2012
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Alvin B. Lin, MD, PLLC About the Author
Alvin B. Lin, MD, PLLC

Provided by My 2 Cents

Last September, I discussed a study demonstrating better carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) scores and reduction in other cardiovascular risk factors in participants in NBC's Biggest Loser TV show.  That's well & good but in a follow up abstract presented at the recent American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) annual meeting, the authors noted that participants were also able to stop taking their diabetes & hypertension medications while maintaining normal diagnostic criteria

While only 17 men & 18 women average 40yo completed 24 weeks of training, their fasting glucose dropped from 91.1mg/dL down to 75.1mg/dL, their fasting insulin dropped from 14.1uIU/mL down to 5.5uIU/mL, and their HgbA1c dropped by 0.53% in 6 months.  More impressively, their mean blood pressure dropped from 138/90mm Hg down to 123/76mm Hg within the first 5 weeks by which time all were off their diabetes & blood pressure medications.  And average percentage body fat dropped from 48% down to 30% which is more than can be expected from gastric bypass surgery!

So what's necessary for these near miraculous achievements?  Prior to entering the show, theparticipants watched 5-6 hours of TV daily although, to their credit, they also exercised approximately 120 minutes each week, close to standard recommendations.  During the show, their TV & computer time dropped down to just 1-2 hours/day (that excludes me!) while they engaged in 4 hours of exercise daily: 1 hour of intense aerobics, 2 hours of moderate aerobics, and 1 hour of intense resistance training.  In other words, exercise became their part-time job!  And while doing so, they consumed at least 70% of their estimated resting daily energy expenditure.

Newsweek recently published an article suggesting that obesity isn't as simple as calories in vs calories out.  Apparently, exercise isn't as important as eating the appropriate foods while avoiding high fructose corn syrup.  While I agree that refined sugars and high glycemic foods should best be left off the grocery list, I can't help but believe that exercise is still a necessary component of a healthy weight loss program.  Now, if we could only set our priorities to make the time & effort these Biggest Loser participants did.


Dr. LinAfter 17 years in Northern California, I headed south where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Riverside, in 1984 and promptly entered the private sector.  A glutton for punishment, I returned for post-baccalaureate studies in Computer Science in 1987 after which I earned my Doctor of Medicine in 1991 from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University.  Love called & romance blossomed, so I returned to the San Francisco Bay Area where I completed my Family Medicine residency at Merrithew Memorial Hospital at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine in 1994.
After 3 years wandering around the country as a locum tenens physician and collecting a dozen state licenses along the way, I was feeling rather masochistic once more.  So I applied for subspecialty training, completing my Fellowship in Geriatrics at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in 1998. I joined the faculty as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and was appointed Director of the Ambulatory Geriatric Center in Greenville, NC. In 2003, I was recruited by Cenegenics Medical Institute to build it into the ubiquitous presence it is today in your airline inflight magazines. After 7 years as an employed physician, I left to return to my family medicine & geriatric roots by developing a small private practice which this website represents.
I have served as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Nevada, School of Medicine since 2004 and recently became an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Family Medicine & Geriatrics at the Touro University Nevada College of Medicine.  Along the way, I have written many articles, given many presentations, and made myself available to both patients and colleagues.  I plan to continue more of the same (but without the middle-man!).  For more information, go to and


The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

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