The “Reality” when it comes to statements made by The Biggest Loser’s “Dr. H” (Dr. Robert Huizenga)
The following is an interview posted on dietsinreview.com with The Biggest Loser’s Dr. Robert Huizenga. In BOLD are my comments within the interview. It is unfair of Dr. Huizenga to make false statements about type 2 diabetes. In my opinion, it’s difficult to trust the word of “TV doctors” who exploit the facts using their credentials as a shield.
From DietsinReview: The Biggest Loser Cures Diabetes Ahead of What Standard Medicine Can Achieve
The following is the interview and article (Diane Kress’ statements in BOLD).
Isn’t it a little bold to say you’re curing diabetes, was my first question for Biggest Loser’s Dr. Robert Huizenga, better known as Dr. H. He asserted that not only can it be done, but Biggest Loser is blazing the trail where curing diabetes is concerned. Yes, a reality show is doing more than his standard medical peers.
Type 2 diabetes is not curable. It is a controllable disease using one of 3 methods.
1. Diet and exercise
2. Diet and exercise plus oral medications
3. Diet and exercise plus insulin (and/or oral medications)
The disease has no cure. Once the pancreas’ beta cells cannot produce an adequate amount of insulin and/or insulin resistance has progressed to the point that insulin is less effective, diabetes exists.
. Some people are fortunate to be able to control their blood sugar through diet and exercise alone. Does this mean they are cured of diabetes? No. It simply means that with diet and exercise, their pancreas can accommodate their blood sugar rise with an adequate amount of insulin that is effective. Others require either an oral medication or insulin to assist with insulin production and connection. In either case, those who take medication or control diabetes without medication still have diabetes.
We spoke this morning in preparation for tonight’s episode in which the contestants will spend their last week on the ranch. As everyone says their farewells, they’ll meet with Dr. H one more time to find out, aside from their scale weight, how they’ve changed their bodies and their health. For Gina, she’s leaving the ranch without the type 2 diabetes she arrived with. This is not true. Gina is leaving the ranch with diabetes under control.
“If we can keep Gina at the levels she’s at tonight for the next 2-5 years, we’ll say we cured her diabetes,” said Dr. Huizenga.
Who says they are cured of diabetes, Dr. Huizenga? There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. If Gina still has normal blood sugar (fasting blood sugar/hemoglobin A1C) in 2-5 years, she is still controlling her diabetes in 2-5 years. She still has diabetes.
How is that so? Right now, Gina’s diabetes has been reversed, or is in remission. As Dr. Huizenga explained, they’ve returned all the indicators to normal. To achieve cure, they have to stay that way for the next several years. This is Dr. Huizenga’s terminology and it is inaccurate and untrue; not fact. People cannot be cured of diabetes.
Gina’s not the only one turning back time on this disease. Young Lindsay, one of the teen ambassadors featured this season, is celebrating a complete reversal of her pre-diabetes. Doing so at such a young age is better and easier than trying to go back when she’s forty, explained the doctor.
Pre-diabetes CAN be reversed. Pre-diabetes is a “gray zone” between normal blood sugar and diabetes. Fasting blood sugar under 99mg/dL is normal. 100-125mg/dL is prediabetes. 126mg/dL and more is diabetes. If you are able to “catch” elevated blood sugar in the pre diabetes stage, you can rest/rehab the overworking pancreas. But….if diet and exercise are not controlled, a person with pre diabetes have the chance of developing incurable type 2 diabetes.
“It’s like putting the toothpaste back in the tube,” he analogized.
Please note that the toothpaste will come out of the tube again without diet and exercise. It is not put back in the tube and sealed.
This isn’t anything new for the show. Pete Thomas, the at-home winner for season two, is now eight years out with a complete cure and no recurrence. Dr. Huizenga celebrated this success and that of all the show’s successful diabetes cures. He said that 10 to 20 percent of contestants arrive with diabetes, while half arrive with pre-diabetes. With hundreds of contestants over 14 seasons, that’s a lot of very sick people. And it’s very indicative of the population as a whole, with 26 million people having diabetes (a number expected to triple by 2050).
Congratulations to Pete Thomas for controlling his type 2 diabetes for 8 years. He is not completely cured….he is responsible for his control. Kudos to him!
Dr. Huizenga called this the number one disease in the world, and criticized the medical community for “dragging their feet” on treatment and cure.
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. It is an endocrine disorder, a progressive hormonal imbalance. Pre diabetes can often be noted YEARS before the onset of type 2 diabetes…and during the time prediabetes is present, there is a chance to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Once type 2 diabetes occurs, it remains. Ironically, the same diet and exercise that can prevent pre diabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes is needed to control type 2 diabetes
What Biggest Loser and its team of experts, largely lead by Dr. Huizenga, have discovered is that rigorous exercise is necessary in curing and remitting type two diabetes. Not only does weight have to be managed, but he says 60 to 90 minutes of exercise six days a week is paramount to success. Attention to diet is also important. It is not necessary for those with diabetes to have 60-90 minutes of intense physical activity 6 days a week to control diabetes.
Many people with the disease are simply unable to maintain that amount of exercise. Please note that just 30 minutes of physical activity over and above a person’s normal activity five days/week will enable fat burning and blood sugar control. AND…this exercise may be split into 10 or 15 minutes sessions,3 times/day. I have found the best blood sugar results from split exercise….some in the morning after breakfast and some in the evening after dinner helps give 24 hour blood sugar control.
Feeding a Diabetes Cure
For two years running, US News has named Biggest Loser as the #1 Best Diabetes Diet. It’s low calorie, low glycemic food, said Dr. Huizenga. But more than that, the creator of the diet and the show’s dietitian, Cheryl Forberg, RD, told us it’s that “the tenets of the eating plan happen to also be the premiere recommendation for controlling your blood sugar.”
The truth is, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recently confirmed that the low fat diet has done nothing to slow down the ravages of obesity…in fact, the medical maladies linked to obesity are on the rise even as calories are declining.
The Biggest Loser Diet, outlined in Forberg’s 6 Weeks to a Healthier You, focuses on the right ratio of macronutrients (good fats, carbohydrates, and protein). She explained that they don’t eat simple carbs except for fruit, and that all grains are whole, which makes it a high fiber diet.
The “right ratio” ….as determined by? ( A low fat, low calorie diet that is 50-55% carbohydrate or more is not conducive to controlling blood sugar).
“That’s a huge piece of controlling blood sugar,” she said.
The Biggest Loser contestants each receive their own calorie budget and unique instructions for how to break that down to three meals and two snacks each day. And unlike other plans that advise having fruit as a snack, Forberg insists that every meal and snack include protein, too. She says this is for three reasons – to slow the release of blood sugar, provide more satiety, and feed the muscles you’re working with the exercise program. For a snack you could have an apple with turkey, mozzarella cheese stick, or Greek yogurt.
Finding a Cure Near You
What’s happening for diabetes treatment outside of Biggest Loser? Not much. Dr. Huizenga said that standard treatment has a doctor following ADA recommendations of 30 minutes of exercise three to six times each week, eating fewer calories, and increasing medications until indicators return to normal. “It doesn’t work,” he said.
The problem with the ADA recommendations are not in lack of exercise…the problem is the high carb aspect. Healthy carbs (low glycemic) or unhealthy carbs in excessive amounts all change to blood sugar. And high blood sugar requires increasing medications. Dr. Huizenga is substituting “intensive exercise” for medications to lower blood sugar. ….60-90 minutes/day of intensive exercise is not always possible for those with diabetes who may also have heart conditions, hypertension, neuropathy, nephropathy, etc.
“It’s humbling that a reality TV show has changed the number one disease in the world,” he commented. “Standard medicine is standing with their hands in their pockets and not one medical group has studied aggressive exercise for diabetes. We’ve pioneered a new paradigm.”
The truth is…the regimen used in the Biggest Loser is not making a difference in the world of diabetes. The low fat, low calorie diet does not lower blood sugar and intense exercise 1.5 hours/day is not typically a part of most people’s norm.
The other “easy fix” Dr. Huizenga said people are chasing is bariatric surgery, which continues to rise in popularity. Last spring, The Atlantic published that 200,000 individuals undergo this weight loss surgery each year, and 40 to 50 percent of those patients put their diabetes in remission, according to Dr. Huizenga. (A study at Mayo last summer found that 95 percent of patients saw a cure.)
There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. The fact is that 5 years after bariatric surgery, the majority of bariatric patients have restarted on diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol medication and are experiencing weight regain. He said that rate doesn’t always lead to the cure they achieve on Biggest Loser, and that other side effects like a 10 times higher rate of suicide, lifelong nutritional deficiencies, a one to two percent chance of dying, and the incredibly high cost are side effects that often don’t outweigh the benefits.
When the dust settles, neither bariatric surgery OR the Biggest Loser diet can cure diabetes. Period.
“Our approach is different,” said Dr. Huizenga, as he explained their contestants have to not only lose weight, but five to ten percent of their body weight and get the fat out of their liver and organs. They’re achieving this through intense daily exercise, a clean diet, and the type of recurring follow-up and monitoring that is necessary to keep people on the right path.
And so, Dr. Huizenga, please do the right thing. Retract your false statements and stop spreading untruths about a very serious disease. You have not cured diabetes…the diet and intense exercise you promote does not cure diabetes. When it comes to health and wellness, please just state facts and don’t mislead. As you already know, people tend to “listen” to the word of a physician. Above all else: do no harm.
Read another blog I wrote on the Biggest Loser: https://dianekress.wordpress.com/?s=biggest+loser