Munich (dpa) - Obese people lose weight at high altitudes and keep
it off for at least four weeks, according to a team of German
Independent of any other change in lifestyle, high altitudes
appear to increase metabolism, decrease appetite and lower diastolic
blood pressure, the researchers report in the journal Obesity.
Understanding the mechanisms behind this weight loss could provide
a basis for new treatments for obesity, they say.
Florian Lippl and colleagues at Ludwig Maximilians University
in Munich studied the effect of living in high altitudes for one week
on the body weight of 20 obese males, while no other change was made
to their exercise routine or food availability.
At the end of the week, their body weight, food intake, and
diastolic blood pressure had been significantly lowered, effects that
were still present four weeks after returning from high altitude.
The low levels of oxygen present at high altitudes could be
responsible for an observed increase in leptin, a hormone thought to
suppress appetite, though the causes of this need to be further
studied, the researchers say.
The lasting weight reduction seen at high altitudes is primarily
due to an increased metabolism and decreased food intake, though the
reasons behind these changes remain unclear and may be a temporary
effect of the body acclimatizing to new surroundings.