Experiments and Studies

This is not a complete list- I'll be adding to it whenever possible.

Set Point

  • In 1967 American Scientists at the Vermont State Prison carried out an experiment by medical researcher Ethan Sims who wanted to study the hormonal changes in the human body when it becomes seriously overweight. Each inmate was fed as much food as they could physically handle and their exercise was restricted. However, regardless of how much they ate, none of the prisoners (all naturally slim) could not become obese. One ate as much as 10,000 calories a day and still did not become obese. None of them even went outside a normal body weight although each responded differently.*1
  • Brittish scientists attempted to recreate the above experiment in  2009 in which they took a group of slim people and fed themas much food as they could handle and restricted their daily movement to less than 5,000 steps a day (about 2 miles). They were not allowed any non walking physical exercise that might skew the results. As above, the patients bodies gained different amounts, but none of them gained enough to even make them overweight. More so, the study showed that their bodies seemed to find ways to burn the extra calories, even without exercise such as small movements like fidgeting or burned off in the form of heat. One participant even gained muscle. Overeating can indeed effect your weight, but only within a range. It can't make the difference between thin and obese. *1
  • According to the BBC Documentary "Why are thin people not fat" we all have a predetermined natural body weight which our bodies will always naturally try to return to. According to Dr David Allison, from the University of AL at Birmingham, our adult sizes may even be determined as early as in the womb. For example, he states that older women give birth to fattier babies. The mother's health and diet at the time of pregnancy also appear to effect the future weight of children.*1
  • According to Dr. Nikhil Durandhar, researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, the human adenovirus AD-36 or 'Adv36', a virus which, in infected chickens, results in a large amount of increased body fat, may contribute greatly to weight in the general population. The virus is not contagious throughout a fat person's life, only after initial infection. This virus can take a naturally lean person and make them fat. Naturally infected people were significantly heavier than their uninfected counterparts. In humans, symptoms of original infection include cold like symptoms, or pink eye, or diarrhea. Obese people are nearly 3X more likely to have the virus and among the non obese group those infected with the virus were still heavier than average. The virus starts in the lungs and spreads through various organs and then fat tissue, causing the tissue to replicate. A person can become infected at any point in their lives. *1 *2 

Disease and Health
  • "For years, Canadians have heard that obesity, a lack of physical activity and a family history are the top risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. But new Canadian research says that, in fact, it is living in poverty that can double or even triple the likelihood of developing the disease." A recent study found that income, not weight, is the largest indicator for diabetes. When comparing groups from low income and higher income backgrounds, the study found that a lower income person of the same weight as a higher income person was 2-3X more likely to have diabetes.  *3
  • Fatter Patients are more likely to survive heart attacks compared to normal weight patients *7
  • "Researchers looked at height, weight, hip, waist, blood pressure, cholesterol and other data from more than 220,000 adults — who had no previous history of heart disease – and tracked them over time to see who had heart attacks.   Once they controlled for age, sex, smoking, baseline systolic blood pressure, history of diabetes, and total and HDL cholesterol, they found that BMI or waist-to-hip ratio didn’t add much information." In other words, weight had very little, if anything, to do with risk of heart disease.  *10
  • Researchers at Monash university conducted a study into fat acceptance and concluded that fat acceptance blogs and being part of a fat acceptance community leads to overall better health *14
  • Two new studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism find that BMI is an inaccurate measure of health and that Obese patients who were fat and fit were likely to live as long as people who were slim. More so it notes that obese patients who were healthier dieted less and were more accepting of their bodies as well as consumed more fruits and vegetables and exercised more.  *12, *13
  • Even short term famine in kids and teens can increase risk of type II diabetes. "Relative to unexposed women, those who were exposed to moderate famine had an age-adjusted hazard ratio of 1.36 for type 2 diabetes, and those exposed to severe famine had an age-adjusted hazard ratio of 1.64." *17 (also under dieting)
  • A study which followed over 43,000 participants from 1979 to 2003 found that 46% of obese patients were metabolically healthy. There was no difference in disease risk between metabolically healthy obese patients and metabolically healthy "normal weight" patients. Meaning that fat metabolically healthy people were just as healthy as thin healthy people and more healthy than fat or thin unhealthy people. *18

  • At the  University of Minnesota, between 1944 and 1945, researchers studied the physiological and psychological effects of semi-starvation. The original intent of the study was to look at how best to help countries ravaged by famine during WWII. This study found that a calorie restrictive diet of 1500 calories a day resulted in increased depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis. Physiological effects included some severe reactions such as self mutilation. Patients experienced a decreased ability to focus or make decisions and exhibited a preoccupation with food. The patients sex drives were reduced drastically and showed signs of social withdraw and isolation and some exhibited swelling in their extremities (edema). The study suggests that low calorie diets are quite unhealthy. *4
  • Long-term follow-up studies document that the majority of individuals regain virtually all of the weight that was lost during treatment, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program [5, 27]. Consider the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest and longest randomized, controlled dietary intervention clinical trial, designed to test the current recommendations. More than 20,000 women maintained a low-fat diet, reportedly reducing their calorie intake by an average of 360 calories per day [102] and significantly increasing their activity [103]. After almost eight years on this diet, there was almost no change in weight from starting point (a loss of 0.1 kg), and average waist circumference, which is a measure of abdominal fat, had increased (0.3 cm) [102]. *6
  • Frequent, intentional, weight lost in post menopausal women may have long term negative consequences for the immune system *8
  •  A 2011 study on twins showed that dieting leads to long term weight gain. The purpose was to find out whether the weight gain associated with dieting was genetic or linked to the dieting itself. This study concludes that it is the dieting itself that leads to long term weight gain and that the weight gain was progressive over the years.  *11
  • Even short term famine in kids and teens can increase risk of type II diabetes. "Relative to unexposed women, those who were exposed to moderate famine had an age-adjusted hazard ratio of 1.36 for type 2 diabetes, and those exposed to severe famine had an age-adjusted hazard ratio of 1.64." *17 (also under health and disease)


  •  Have you heard how People have been getting fatter over the past few decades? Well we're not the only ones. Animals that live closely with humans- dogs, cats, rats, mice and lab animals, have also been gaining weight. Lab animals whose diets and environments remain exactly the same and have been bred normally (not for a larger size). "fascinating new research shows that bacteria in our gut affect how many calories we extract from foods" (remember, a calorie is not a physical thing but a unit of energy). which means a thin person shoveling in massive numbers of calories aren't actually getting that many calories. A fat person eating smaller amounts may actually be getting more calories than a thin person eating far more. Other explanations have been attributed to. "Food marketing, more TV, and less phys ed can no more explain these fatter animals than they can the epidemic of obesity in babies under 6 months."*5
  • "A study on caloric intake in a large, nationwide population of children and adolescents has revealed the surprising finding that those who are clinically overweight and obese consume fewer calories than their healthy weight counterparts, beginning at around 7 years of age." Of course this is only "surprising" to anyone who didn't grow up fat watching our thin counterparts eat twice as much as we did. *9

Mental Health
  • "The study looked at more than 14,000 high school students to determine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and suicide attempts, as well as the relationship between believing one is overweight — whether true or not —and suicide attempts. “Our findings show that both perceived and actual overweight increase risk for suicide attempt,” said lead study author Monica Swahn, Ph.D. That association was as strong for boys as for girls." *15
  • "Those adolescents classified above the 85th percentile on all the anthropometric measurements, as well as overweight adolescents, were at increased risk of developing an eating disorder (OR: 2.8-4.30, all p < 0.01).


    Regardless of the anthropometric measurements used, adolescents with excessive body fat showed a higher risk of having eating disorders than those with normal weight." *16

*1 BBC Documentary "Why are thin people not fat"
*2 Infectobesity: Obesity of Infectious Origin
*3 Poverty as a leading cause of diabetes
*4 The Minnesota Starvation Experiment  
*5 Newsweek covers Obese Animals
*6 Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift 
*7 Impact of body mass index on cardiac mortality in patients with known or suspected coronary artery disease undergoing myocardial perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography.
*8 Frequent intentional weight loss is associated with lower natural killer cell cytotoxicity in postmenopausal women: possible long-term immune effects.

*9 Fat kids eat less than thin kids
*10 Separate and combined associations of body-mass index and abdominal adiposity with cardiovascular disease: collaborative analysis of 58 prospective studies
*11 International Journal of Obesity: Does dieting make you fat? A twin study.
*12 Edmonton Obesity Staging System: association with weight history and mortality risk
*13 Using the Edmonton Obesity staging system to predict mortality in a population-representative cohort of people with overweight and obesity