What actually happens when you eat pizza in bed all day, according to science
To the surprise of probably no one, it turns out my life-long dream of getting paid to eat cookies and pizza in bed all day isn’t very sustainable.
In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at Temple University hoped to explore the connection between obesity and the metabolic syndrome; in particular, how overeating can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. To help prove this, six healthy males volunteered to eat 6,000 calories per day for a week without performing any physical activity whatsoever. The volunteers stayed at a hospital for the duration of the study; and were kept under careful watch to make sure they remained in bed.
“It was a regular, American diet, composed of pizzas, hamburgers and that sort of thing,” Salim Merali, one of the study’s leads, told New Scientist. “They took to the diet, and liked it,” Guenther Boden, another of the study’s leads, added. And what isn’t there to like about eating 6,000 calories of good ‘ol American junk food?
As it turns out, a lot. Within two days, all of the volunteers had already developed insulin resistance — or, as the University of Nottingham’s Francis Stephens told New Scientist, “By definition, they all developed diabetes.” Along with increased levels of blood sugar, all six men had gained an average of 3.5 kg — about 7.7 lbs — of fat by the end of the week; which the team says is a significant amount for such a short period of time.
In order to figure out what caused the volunteers to develop insulin resistance so quickly, the researchers then tested out a few theories. After sampling fat cells and testing inflammation levels, they ultimately discovered oxidized lipid compounds in the participants’ urine. According to the study, these compounds are, “associated with inactivation of GLUT4, a major insulin-facilitated glucose transporter, suggesting a potential approach for the development of future therapeutic agents.” (Basically, GLUT4 helps us absorb sugar into our blood cells; and overeating leads to compounds that prevent GLUT4 from doing its job.)
There’s still plenty of work to be done to further discover the connection between overeating and insulin resistance, but this study is definitely a great start — and hopefully, it helps pave the way for more research in the future. And, you know, it answers some questions we’ve had about just eating pizza forever.
(Image via Friends.)