Michael Rosenbaum, MD
April Diabetes Research Panelist

Why is it so hard to keep weight off? Is it really just a lack of willpower? The answer is that it is biology. After successful weight loss, you will be hungrier and will burn about 15% fewer calories a day than a person who weighs the same but hasn’t lost weight. Our bodies are “programmed” to defend against sustained weight loss.

Much of the research that explains why it is even harder to keep weight off than to lose it in the first place—has been conducted over the years by Dr. Michael Rosenbaum, a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at CUMC and diabetes co-investigator, along with Berrie Center Co-Director, Dr. Rudy Leibel. Perhaps you saw both doctors explain their research on why 85 per cent of people who lose weight, gain it back, on the HBO special, The Weight of the Nation. On April 2, 2014, Dr. Leibel will be a moderator, and Dr. Rosenbaum, a panelist, at the Berrie Center’s Diabetes Research Panel, an event that translates the cutting edge advances in diabetes research to diabetes patients and their families and friends.

If you have ever tried to lose weight and keep it off, you will find Dr. Rosenbaum’s information on the physiology of weight loss regulation to be enlightening. Dr. Rosenbaum has been studying the physiology of weight loss for over 25 years. He and Dr. Leibel are internationally recognized for this NIH-funded work and its relevance to the understanding the origins and treatment of obesity and diabetes.

“If your weight goes from 200 to 180 pounds, and you’d like to know if you can eat like any other 180 pound person, the answer is you can’t,” said Dr. Rosenbaum. “The same physiology is at play whether you are obese, or you want to lose 5 pounds to fit into last year’s bikini. Not only is your metabolism very slow after you’ve lost weight, your desire to eat is very high. It’s the perfect storm for weight regain.”

Dr. Rosenbaum has also devoted his expertise to preventing weight gain and type 2 diabetes in children. He said, “It is extremely difficult to keep weight off. Let’s see if we can prevent putting it on in the first place.” In studies of risk factors for obesity and type 2 diabetes in over 1000 6th, 7th and 8th graders has and shown that school-based interventions to increase physical activity and improve health knowledge are effective. “Meeting New York City mandates for physical education  and improving nutrition knowledge actually work,” he said. “One of the nice things that came out of our studies was that it didn’t matter if you were overweight or thin, you were still healthier after participating in the intervention. Everyone deserves this education.”

In addition to Dr. Rosenbaum, the April Diabetes Research Panel scientists are Berrie Center and Columbia faculty members, Robin Goland, MD, J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Medicine and Berrie Center Co-Director and Rudolph Leibel, MD, Christopher Murphy Professor of Pediatrics and Berrie Center Co-Director, who will moderate the panel; Domenico Accili, MD, Russell Berrie Foundation Professor of Medicine and an international leader in the field of beta cell biology; Wendy Chung, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, a renowned clinical and molecular geneticist; Rebecca Haeusler, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology, who studies the connection between diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; and Dieter Egli, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, a stem cell scientist whose discovery of a new way to make patient-specific stem cells was named Time Magazine’s #1 medical discovery of 2011.


To RSVP to the Diabetes Research Panel contact Morgan Tupper at 212-304-7210 or met2170@columbia.edu