He put on nearly 14 kg to play a portly baseball coach in A League of Their Own (1992) and then lost 23 kg to portray a man stranded on an island in Cast Away (2000).
The joke doing the rounds back then was that Tom Hanks’s weight should win an Oscar, but now the actor has revealed that he is suffering from type-2 diabetes, which could have been caused by drastic weight fluctuations. So before you go on that crash diet to drop the kilos quickly before the festive season, think about the long-term health consequences. We talk to experts to examine if weight loss or gain is linked with being diabetic later in life.
“Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder, where glucose builds up in the blood instead of getting absorbed and utilised in the cells. When you resort to dramatic weight gain or loss, the endocrine axis gets disrupted. This, coupled with bad dietary habits and no exercise, can cause sudden weight fluctuations in a short period, without giving your body organs the appropriate time to adjust to this dietary change,” says Dr Pradeep Gadge, consulting diabetologist. “However, regarding sudden, dramatic weight loss, I’m not sure whether this has an impact on becoming diabetic,” he adds.
Another diabetologist, Dr Banshi Saboo, shares a similar view. “A low-fat and carbohydrate-rich diet is helpful to reduce weight quickly and may decrease proteins in muscles. But there is no data which support the statement that losing weight quickly may harm your health,” he says.
With the festive season upon us, sweets and mithai will be piling up at homes and offices. In such a scenario, it can get hard to beat the temptation, but don’t start skipping meals to offset the sugar binge. “Linking of food with every celebration is not a good idea. Lots of fasting period or periodic rise in food intake also needs to be avoided,” says Dr Jayashree Todkar. “Type 2 diabetes is mostly associated with a sedentary lifestyle, change in food habits, smoking, stress and alcohol,” says Saboo.
The best way to counter festival weight gain is to continue exercising and avoiding binging. Although Hanks has been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, he has gone on record saying that the condition is controllable. With diet restrictions, regular exercise and medication, you can live a healthy life with diabetes.
Lose kilos, not your health
Doctors caution that sudden weight loss has its own consequences, such as electrolyte imbalance and osteoporosis. If you are looking to lose weight, or even maintaining your current physique, experts recommend taking it slow. Dr Jayashree Todkar, consultant bariatric and diabetic surgeon at the Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital, says contrary to popular belief, that there is no fixed ideal weight.
“Up to 10 per cent of your weight loss can happen with calorie restriction and good physical activity within a period of 8-10 days without harming your health,” says Todkar. “This can be achieved under scientific supervision after studying the individual body systematically.”
Dr Pradeep Gadge adds that it is important to maintain a happy state of mind, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. “I have a simple formula to calculate your ideal weight. For males, subtract 100 from your height in cm and for females multiply this number by 0.8,” he says.