Dr. Robert Huizenga, TV Doctor Helps Overweight Patients Shed Pounds And Eliminate Diabetes MedicationsOctober 2014
By Astrid Derfler Kessler
In addition to his thriving private medical practice in Beverly Hills, California, Dr. Robert Huizenga is a best-selling author and former physician for the Los Angeles Raiders football team. But he is best known as one of the leading weight-loss experts in the country following the success of the NBC hit reality series The Biggest Loser. As the show’s medical director, Dr. Huizenga helps obese participants shed not only pounds, but also the unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices that result in devastating and chronic diseases.
A Harvard-trained physician, Dr. H, as he is affectionately known, has been repeatedly called upon to offer his expert opinion on all television networks, as well as major newspapers such as the New York Times and LA Times. He is currently an associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA and the author of numerous medical abstracts and articles.
In 2008, Dr. Huizenga penned the highly rated how-to book Where Did All the Fat Go? The WOW Prescription to Reach Your Ideal Weight and Stay There . The book was based on his extreme exercise-centric method of helping hundreds of overweight and obese applicants from The Biggest Loser lose not only weight but their current medications.
Study Results Presented At Annual Conference
Dr. Huizenga has published numerous scientific abstracts and papers regarding nonsurgical approaches to obesity, weight loss, and fat loss. In 2012, he presented the results of a study at the 21st annual conference of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Diabetes is the fastest-growing epidemic in recent history,” says Dr. H. “Through each Biggest Loser season we learned, anecdotally and with ongoing checkups, that in addition to losing all that weight, our participants were receiving substantial health benefits. What this study did was bring all the results together into one comprehensive evaluation with very specific data. The results were astonishing, almost miraculous. Our participants were becoming significantly healthier metabolically.”
The study followed 35 subjects for 29 weeks. Of the participants, about 50% had type II diabetes or prediabetes, and 77% were prescribed medication to control high blood pressure. The average body mass index of the subjects was 40, which is the cutoff point between obese and morbidly obese.
The subjects were placed on a combination of moderate calorie restriction (1,600 to 2,000 calories for men and 1,000 to 1,400 calories for women) and an “exercise-centric” program consisting of one hour of intense resistance exercise, one hour of intense aerobic exercise, and two hours of moderate aerobic activity daily.
By the second week, 100% of participants were off their blood pressure medications and by week five, Dr. Huizenga says there were “absolutely unprecedented” drops in measures of metabolic dysfunction and “all diagnostic criteria for diabetes, prediabetes, and hypertension were absent in each participant.” Further unprecedented improvements included:
- Fasting glucose levels dropped from 129 to 91 mg/dL in diabetics and from 82 to 79 mg/dL in prediabetics.
- Mean systolic blood pressure dropped from 138 to 118 mm Hg by the end of the study, and diastolic blood pressure dropped from a baseline of 90 to 74 mm Hg.
- Overall, mean fasting insulin fell from 14.1 to 5.5 µIU/mL, mean homeostasis model assessment estimated–insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) score fell from 2.1 to 0.5, mean serum adiponectin levels rose from 8.6 to 13.1 µg/mL, and mean triglycerides fell from 127 to 65 mg/dL.
Dr. H Responds To His Critics
Doctor Huizenga has been criticized by those who say this study is unrealistic because no one (outside of those on a TV show) can be expected to exercise four hours a day. He responds that following the program, participants were advised to work out for a much more realistic 90 minutes a day, and that finding the time is a matter of priorities. He adds that at the beginning of the study, contestants admitted watching five to six hours of television per day. By the end of the study, viewing time was decreased to just one to two hours per day.
People have plenty of time to devote to working out, Dr. Huizenga says, if they want to cure diseases like diabetes, live longer, and improve their quality of life. Those who cannot find the time need consider the alternative.
“Everyone has time for essential daily activities—when your tooth has a painful infection, you cancel the day’s meetings and go to the dentist. If you are diagnosed with cancer, believe me, you’ll change your entire life to accommodate doctors’ appointments, cancer treatment, and prevention of relapse,” he says.
“Why then wouldn’t everyone have two weeks to initiate state-of-the-art, medication-free stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer prevention and carry on at home with 60 to 90 minutes a day of exercise given these health stakes?
“If you have overflowing abdominal fat, you’re facing a choice not terribly dissimilar from [these] examples. Your excess fat is a deliberate poison. It’s not easy, but two hours a day of exercise with calorie counting and moderate caloric restriction for six months is a small price to pay to remove the poison.”
Dr. Huizenga also says that current exercise recommendations of two-and-a-half hours a week are completely inadequate.
“If we get away from dumbed-down exercise recommendations, we could see a whole new paradigm for treating type II diabetes. We found that our participants tended to sit less after going through the program,” says Dr. H., who believes most people should exercise an average of 60 to 90 minutes per day.
“I have a job and I work out from 90 to 100 minutes per day,” he says. “It’s about setting priorities. Time is not the issue; priorities are the issue.”
Tackling Obesity One On One
In 2013, Dr. Huizenga opened The Clinic, a combination weight-loss facility, spa, and medical center in Malibu, California, that aims to help patients eliminate excess fat and fat-related diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, asthma, sleep disorders, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and eating disorders.
The two-week program begins with a complete 12-point exam that measures blood work including CBC, chemistry panel, urinalysis, C-reactive protein, thyroid, insulin, and more, a glucose tolerance test, treadmill test, ECG, bone density evaluation, resting metabolic rate, and more.
“I decided to open The Clinic when I discovered [the] obese patients I was treating demonstrated an absolute elimination of diabetes, prediabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypertension in only six weeks with an exercise-centric weight-loss program,” says Dr. H.
“All [patients] had completely eliminated all medications at the beginning of their personalized program. The rapidity and completeness of diabetic marker and blood pressure normalization had never been seen before. At the three-year mark, fat loss has been fully maintained in 75% of these individuals. Considering the fact that type II diabetes is the most rapidly expanding epidemic in the history of mankind, my aggressive approach—though not for everyone—offers a much needed alternative to standard advice ‘eat better, move more, and take these drugs,’ which for many reasons rarely works and does not offer a long-term solution to a long-term problem or the issues that created them.”
Improving Health And Increasing Longevity
The numbers don’t lie: According to the latest research from the National Institutes of Health, obesity—a body mass index of 40 or more—shortens life span by 6.5 years, or almost 20% of their remaining life. The data indicates that the deaths are mostly due to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The excess weight impacts chronic disease and reduces longevity in the following ways, says Dr. Huizenga:
- “Inflammation” effects: Fat infiltrated inside organs is associated with the release of harmful signals that increase the risk of high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and cancer.
- “Mass” effects: Every one pound of abdominal fat increases mechanic stress on hips and knees by three to four pounds.
- “Pressure” effects: The fat in a protuberant belly squeezes organs, resulting in incontinence, reflux, shortness of breath, and sleep apnea.
“When people become physically and physiologically fit, eat food that supports physical and emotional well-being, reduce the amount of visceral fat on their bodies, and address tobacco and drug abuse, 80% of disease can potentially be prevented,” says Dr. H. “Likewise, 80% of prescription medication can be eliminated. Sadly, few patients prioritize their time and resources to fully obtain the health benefits available to them.”
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