Springfield College seeking overweight men to participate in new diet and exercise study

Professor Richard Wood.

Reminder Publications submitted photo

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Managing Editor

GREATER SPRINGFIELD -- Richard Wood, an assistant professor of exercise science at Springfield College, is looking for 20 over-weight men between the ages of 50 and 70 to participate in a 12-week weight loss re-search study exam-ining the effects of low fat and low carbo-hydrate diets on muscle mass.

Participants will receive free diet and exercise counseling and measurements of body fat, muscle mass and blood chemistry during the study.

Wood, who holds a doctorate in nutrition and is a certified athletic trainer, is interested in enrolling study subjects who have Metabolic Syndrome a condition he describes as "a constellation of related factors that increase [a man's] chances of getting cardiovascular disease or type two diabetes."

These factors include a blood pressure reading of 135 over 85 or greater, a blood sugar reading of over 110 mg/deciliter, a triglyceride reading of over 150 mg/deciliter, an HDL cholesterol reading below 40 and a waist circumferences of 40 inches or more.

"If they have three of the five, they are a candidate," Wood said.

Study participants can be on prescription medication to control blood pressure, but cannot be under treatment for diabetes, heart or thyroid disease. They must also be free of any orthopedic conditions that would prevent participation in exercise.

Once selected, a participant will be randomly assigned to follow a low fat or low carbo-hydrate diet.

"They will receive counseling and handouts . and they follow the [supervised] diet for 12 weeks," Wood said. "Half of the people in each group will also be assigned to a personal trainer."

Wood said the exercise groups will do strength training or weight lifting three times per week.

According to Wood, the goal of the study is to determine if one of the two diet approaches is better at preserving muscle mass while a subject is losing weight.

"A secondary outcome is to see if additional resistance training would better preserve muscle mass," he added.

Participants in the upcoming 12-week study, which is being funded by the Springfield College Faculty Research Fund and conducted under the auspices of the Center for Wellness Education and Research, will be the fourth group of men to take part in this research, which Wood hopes to publish in the near future.

His ultimate goal is to use the results of this research to develop a longer study that will identify strategies to combat sarcopenic obesity, which Wood defines as the confluence of age-related muscle wasting with the over-acumulation of body fat.

For more information on the current 12-week weight loss study, or to inquire if you might be a candidate, call Wood at 748-3179 or rwood@spfldcol.edu .

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