Technology Portfolio

Body Mass Replacement: Improving Long-term Weight Loss

This novel method of replacing body mass with external weight maximizes the long-term benefits of obesity treatments by minimizing weight-loss induced decreases in resting metabolic rate, muscle strength, bone mineral density and bone formation.

Technology Overview

Ref #: WFU 17-23

By developing a method of externally replacing lost body mass, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have created a simple way for patients to achieve the benefits of weight loss without being subjected to its negative side effects. External replacement of body mass maintainsthe weight that the patient’s bones and muscles are accustomed to. This method could be used in a variety of forms including a vest, belt, strap, cuff or garment.

The research conducted at Wake Forest shows that compensating for lost body weight during caloric restriction preserves resting metabolic rate, lower extremity muscle power, total hip bone mineral density, and a bone formation biomarker, all of which help to prevent weight regain. Patient compliance with externally replacing lost body mass is higher than exercise. Additionally, this method does not contribute significantly to injury risk or require any additional equipment or monitoring.

Obesity is a world-wide epidemic, with about 30% of the world’s population being overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), putting almost 2 billion people worldwide at risk for the development and progression of many chronic diseases.

To treat obesity, physicians recommend a 5-10% decrease in initial body weight. However, this magnitude of weight loss has adverse effects including a decrease in resting metabolic rate (RMR), as well as substantial loss of muscle mass and bone density. Weight regain following weight loss remains the most persistent problem with all obesity treatments, and, because RMR is a major determinant of energy balance and changes in weight, factors that decrease RMR are associated with difficulty in maintaining lost weight.

Current standard of care involves caloric restriction, behavioral counseling and physical activity. These often require expensive equipment, on-site monitoring and supervision, and patient compliance with exercise is low. Methods are needed to minimize weight loss-induced side effects, maximize long-term benefits of obesity treatments and prevent weight regain.

A pilot study has been completed. Follow-up studies are underway to determine if these health benefits and prevention of weight regain are sustained long-term.

  • Barbara J. Nicklas, PhD, Department of Geriatrics/Internal Medicine

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Osama Zahid
Osama Zahid, PhD