Losing Weight? Sleep in a Tent! The Curious LOWS Study Underway in Baton Rouge

Key Points

  • Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre are conducting the ‘Low Oxygen and Weight Status’ (LOWS) study to see if oxygen levels similar to high altitudes can aid weight loss.
  • Participants will sleep in tents with either normal oxygen levels or levels equivalent to an altitude of 8,500 feet for a period of four months.
  • Dr. Claire Berryman, the lead researcher, has a history of studying health and performance at high altitudes and believes this study might open new ways to improve metabolic health.

The Pennington Biomedical Research Centre is looking into whether high altitude might be a secret ingredient for weight loss. The study, dubbed the ‘Low Oxygen and Weight Status’, or LOWS for short, is raising eyebrows and enlisting volunteers who fancy a bit of a climb, metaphorically speaking.

The study sets out to answer the question: Does our weight change depending on how high we are above sea level? In other words, could living in Colorado make losing weight easier than living in Louisiana? The answer, they believe, might be blowing in the (thin, high-altitude) wind.

Participants will be randomly assigned to snooze in tents with varying oxygen levels – either the usual amount you’d find at Baton Rouge’s altitude or a reduced level mimicking the atmosphere at 8,500 feet, roughly equivalent to the elevation of Aspen, Colorado. Over a four-month period, including eight weeks of a weight loss diet, these adventurous volunteers will be kipping in these special altitude tents, all set up snugly around their home beds.

The lead researcher on this venture is Dr. Claire Berryman, an assistant professor in the Clinical Science Nutritional Physiology Lab. She’s rather chuffed with the facilities at Pennington Biomedical, stating, “For our field of research, particularly in nutrition, metabolism, obesity and more, other institutes simply can’t compete with the resources, equipment, and lab space of Pennington Biomedical.”

She went on to discuss the potential impact of the Baton Rouge residents participating in the study. “This facility is a rare gem in the nutrition research world, and Baton Rouge residents can play a major role in the discoveries made here.” Encouraging potential participants, she added, “The results of this study may inform new strategies to improve metabolic health.”

Dr. Berryman’s previous studies revolved around the health and performance of soldiers training at high altitudes. Intriguingly, she found that those at higher altitudes lost more weight than those at sea level, under similar conditions. This might be a bit of a bother for the soldiers, but it sparked an idea: could high altitude be a secret weapon for those looking to shed a few pounds?

Along with Dr. Berryman, Dr. Stephen Hennigar, her husband, also joined Pennington Biomedical. They both previously served as post-doctoral researchers for the United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine or USARIEM, and were assistant professors at Florida State University. Dr. John Kirwan, Pennington Biomedical Executive Director, said, “The history they both have in working with the military and their focus on metabolism made them natural fits for the research we do.”

In addition to the Berryman-Hennigar team, other investigators on the LOWS project include Drs. Eric Ravussin, Jennifer Rood, and Frank Greenway. Their combined efforts, alongside the world-renowned research labs at PBRC, ultimately drew Berryman and Hennigar to Baton Rouge.

Dr. Berryman brings with her a hefty £2.3 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Such a sizable grant is bound to be a game-changer in the world of research on metabolism and weight loss.

So, the question of the hour is: can sleeping in a tent with oxygen levels equivalent to Aspen, Colorado, help you lose weight? Only time, and the LOWS study, will tell. But one thing’s for sure, Baton Rouge might become the unlikely hotspot for weight loss strategies, all thanks to a couple of tents and a bunch of curious researchers.

The LOWS study holds the promise of paving the way to a revolutionary approach to weight loss and improved metabolic health. Dr. Kirwan seems rather optimistic about this unique study, stating, “The LOWS study is an important project, and one that could provide insight into how altitude affects weight loss.”

In the end, the LOWS study is more than a mere academic curiosity. It’s an exploration into a new realm of weight loss that could potentially benefit millions of people struggling with obesity. If altitude is indeed the key, then the mountains could very well be the next big thing in the world of weight loss. And for those of us who can’t exactly move to Colorado, perhaps a tent in the bedroom will do the trick!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What exactly is the ‘Low Oxygen and Weight Status’ (LOWS) study?

The LOWS study is a research initiative undertaken by the team at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre. Its objective is to determine if exposure to low oxygen levels, similar to those found at higher altitudes, might assist individuals who are overweight in losing weight and improving their health.

2. Could you explain how the LOWS study operates?

Participants in the LOWS study will sleep in specially designed tents placed around their beds at home. These tents mimic either normal oxygen levels, as experienced in Baton Rouge, or reduced oxygen levels akin to an altitude of 8,500 feet, much like Aspen, Colorado. The study spans four months and includes eight weeks where participants adhere to a weight loss diet. The research team will monitor any changes in the participants’ weight and overall health.

3. Who is leading the LOWS study?

Dr. Claire Berryman, an assistant professor in the Clinical Science Nutritional Physiology Lab at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre, is the primary researcher for the LOWS study.

4. How might I participate in the LOWS study?

Individuals interested in participating in the LOWS study should review the eligibility criteria and consider enrolling. The research team at the Pennington Biomedical Research Centre encourages potential participants to explore more about the study on their website.


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