Dietetics student ponders weighty matters

24 March 2003

Through thick and thin: Student dietitian Anthony Hehir hopes to find out how and why men – lean and obese - burn food with different efficiencies.

ANTHONY Hehir, a student with the Division of Nutrition and Dietetics, is calling on lean and obese men to help him find answers to one modern man's greatest puzzles.

For his honours project, Hehir aims to find out why some men can indulge, with seeming impunity, in burgers and pizzas and not put on a single ounce of weight, while others need merely cast a surreptitious glance at a piece of chocolate to find their girths expanding in response. “Some people are much more efficient fuel burners than others,” he said of this contrasting phenomenon.

To find out why this is so, Hehir is continuing research done in the United Kingdom that compared lean low-fat eaters with their lean, high-fat ingesting counterparts. This study found that these two groups differed in a number of ways, some having had different metabolic rates and satiety levels.

For his study, Hehir plans to include obese high-fat and obese low-fat eaters, and is looking for 40 volunteers. The men must:
  • be between 18 and 45 years of age;
  • be free from certain medical conditions, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.;
  • not be on any chronic medication;
  • be either lean or obese, ie have a body mass index (BMI) of either less than 25 or more than 30;
  • habitually eat a high-fat or low-fat diet, and
  • have a mostly sedentary lifestyle, ie exercise no more than once a week.
With more than enough lean, high-fat consuming volunteers having come forward, Hehir is at this stage looking specifically for lean, low-fat eaters and for obese men who eat either high- or low-fat diets.

Once volunteers are selected – following telephonic screening and the completion of a three-day food record and a questionnaire on appetite – they will be required to go in (once) to the Sports Science Institute in Newlands for a series of tests over a seven-hour session. This will include measurements of levels of glucose, insulin and a satiety hormone CCK (via blood samples), as well as consuming a milkshake and standardised meal.

In return for their time, Hehir will provide each of the 40 men with a full dietary analysis and a body composition assessment (BMI and precentage body fat), as well as a nominal fee of R100.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Hehir by phone at either 083-986-0448 (cell), 021-685-3365 (home) or by email.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.