Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine paid people to gain weight for three months.
The people participating in this research were required to eat an extra 1,000-calorie fast food meal each day for three months.
Dr. Samuel Klein, lead researcher for the study, wanted to find out why only some people who gain weight develop diabetes and hypertension while others do not. He said he couldn’t get this information by feeding food pellets to lab animals.
“What you learn in rodents does not always translate to people,” Klein said. “What you learn on flies and worms won’t translate to people.”
According to Klein, fast food is the perfect food pellet because it is good for measuring what people are eating.
The restaurants the participants were required to eat from were McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC.
“[Fast food restaurants] have very regulated food content,” said Klein. “We know exactly the calories and macro-nutrient composition within fast food restaurants, so it’s a very inexpensive, easy and tasteful way to give people extra calories.”
Participants were offered a cash incentive. They could earn up to $3,500 which deepened on how long it takes them to reach the research weight goal. Researchers monitored their weight every week.
One of the participants was Dawn Freeman, a 50-year-old nurse who gained 16 pounds in the course of eight weeks.
She was paid $2,650 for her efforts and $50 to lose all the weight again. By walking and changing her diet, she was able to bring her weight back down to 162.8 pounds. The hospital helped participants lose the weight they gained.
Freeman said gaining weight wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Her first day, she had a Big Mac and large fries from McDonald’s. The next day she went to Taco Bell, but she ate that after she already had dinner. She enjoyed it the first few days, but later on she got sick of the food.
Klein predicted this would happen.
“This is not pleasant for them,” Klein said. “It’s not easy to stuff your face every day for a long period of time.”
Freeman said she started to feel awful after two weeks in the program.
“I could hardly breathe anymore.”
What do you think of this research? Are humans being used as guinea pigs?