Aamir Khan

A Real Celebrity Weight Loss Secret: Evidence-Based Care

Ever watch a movie and wonder: what did it take for an actor or actress to get rock hard, 6-pack abs? Certainly, special effects have their role. But if you were to believe the magazines in the grocery store checkout line, you would find the secret to Hugh Jackman’s “Wolverine” look is hydration, Gingko, and a workout that can fit on a page between weekly dinner specials and a detergent ad. In reality, much of the time, the real celebrity weight loss secret may just come down to solid evidence-based weight management and obesity treatment.

This certainly is the case for Bollywood star Aamir Khan. Mr. Khan is about to release an upcoming blockbuster named “Dangal”. In the movie, Mr. Khan plays the role of an elderly, overweight former-champion wrestler, and in the same movie, his incredibly fit younger self. This younger look required him to lose 20kg of fat in a short amount of time. His movie studio recently released a short video of his weight loss transformation. The effort shown in the video demonstrates his devotion to achieving his goals. He is undoubtedly an extremely determined person.

However, he didn’t do it alone. In addition to a team of trainers, Mr. Khan consulted leading obesity expert Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar. Dr. Dhurandhar has treated over 10,000 cases of obesity over his career, and has studied obesity and weight loss for 35 years. For a year, the two of them worked together constantly to guide Mr. Khan’s daily diet using evidence-based methods. So, in this case at least, there was no secret to his celebrity weight loss. Only a year of carefully regulated and modified diet and intense exercise. Neither of which can fit in a bottle, or on two pages of a grocery store tabloid.

This raises a critical point. Mr. Khan is (1) naturally lean, (2) an extremely determined person, (3)  strongly professionally motivated to lose weight, and (4) possessing the resources to make it happen. Even with all these advantages, he had to work non-stop with an obesity expert. How, then, do we expect the rest of us to accomplish such a feat, when we are not naturally lean and have only average determination, motivation, and resources?

Mr. Khan’s weight loss journey is a stark example of the necessity of obesity expertise. If Mr. Khan had tried going solo, and taken the ubiquitous advice of “just eat less and move more,” his movie may have turned out quite differently. If we are serious about making an impact on the obesity epidemic, it is clear that one of the things we need is far more widespread expertise in obesity medicine. We need experts who are trained at the level of Dr. Dhurandhar, who prescribe only evidence-based treatments. Maybe then we stand a chance. Although most likely the only six-pack we’d have is the one in the shopping cart.

Today’s post comes from our friend Emily Dhurandhar, Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at Texas Tech University and an emerging leader in obesity research.

Aamir Khan at the European Parliment, photograph © European Parliment / Pietro Naj-Oleari / flickr

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December 12, 2016