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Am J Clin Nutr. 1984 May;39(5):695-702.

Cardiac dysfunction in obese dieters: a potentially lethal complication of rapid, massive weight loss.


During 1977 and 1978, 17 obese but otherwise healthy adult Americans died suddenly of ventricular arrhythmias during or shortly after completing rapid, massive weight reduction induced by very low-calorie diets consisting largely of collagen hydrolysates for 2 to 8 months. A reexamination of the data on these victims has disclosed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.824) between their prediet body mass index and their duration of survival on the very low-calorie diets. Since body mass index reflects degree of fatness, this observation indicates that the ability to defer the lethal effects of severe caloric restriction was a function of the proportion of body fat before dieting. During caloric reduction, the ratio of nitrogen loss to weight loss is inversely related to body fat content; accordingly, we suggest that the fattest dieters survived the longest because they were better able to conserve body (and myocardial) protein. Also, obese people have an enlarged lean body mass which may afford additional protection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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