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Michael Lowe

Michael R. Lowe, PhD

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Office: Stratton 284
Phone: 215.553.7116

Additional Sites:

The Lowe Lab


  • PhD, Psychology, Boston College, 1979
  • MS, Psychology, Drexel University, 1976
  • BS, Psychology, Boston University, 1973

Curriculum Vitae:

Download (PDF)

Research Interests:

Please visit the Lowe Lab for more details about the research topics below:

  • Obesity
  • Set point
  • Eating disorders
  • Dieting
  • Hedonic hunger
  • Weight variability


Michael R. Lowe, PhD, is a Professor of clinical psychology at Drexel University. Dr. Lowe has served as a long-term research consultant to Weight Watchers and to the Renfrew Center for eating disorders. Lowe has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on several NIH-funded grants on the origins of, and treatments for, eating disorders and obesity, and pioneered the study of hedonic hunger, weight suppression and weight variability. He developed the Power of Food Scale, which has been used in hundreds of studies around the world, and by Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk in their clinical trials on obesity medications. Lowe is a principal investigator on the POWERS (Physiology of the Weight Reduced State) study, a five-year, multi-site NIH clinical trial designed to identify the physiological and behavioral determinants of weight regain following weight loss.

In recent years, Dr. Lowe has increasingly turned his attention to why psychological treatments for eating disorders and obesity are relatively impotent and have improved so little in the past several decades. In short, he has written about two diverging trends that may provide an explanation. For eating disorders, treatments have become increasingly mentalistic in nature, overlooking the powerful influences of genetics and weight history, as well as how the neurobehavioral consequences of eating disorders makes them self-perpetuating. For obesity, the impact of behavioral and lifestyle treatments are relatively weak and transitory because they are based on self-regulation techniques that are over-matched by powerful environmental and biological factors that strongly resist attempts at weight reduction. Consequently, the fields’ current funding and publication practices too often involve the pursuit of recycled rather than innovative treatment strategies.

Selected Publications:

  • Lowe, M. R., Benson, L., & Zhang, F. (2021). Greater within‐person weight variability during infancy predicts future increases in z‐BMI. Obesity, 29(10), 1684-1688
  • Chen, J. Y., Singh, S., & Lowe, M. R. (2021). The food restriction wars: Proposed resolution of a primary battle. Physiology & Behavior, 113530.
  • Lowe, M. R. (2021). Commentary on:“What is restrained eating and how do we identify it?”: Unveiling the elephant in the room. Appetite, 105221.
  • Aronne, L.J., Hall, K.D., Jakicic, J., Leibel, R.L., Lowe, M.R., Rosenbaum, M. & Klein, S. (2021). Describing the weight-reduced state: Physiology, behavior, and interventions. Obesity, Vol 29 (Supplement 1).
  • Lowe, M. R., Marmorstein, N., Iacono, W., Rosenbaum, D., Espel-Huynh, H., Muratore, A. F., ... & Zhang, F. (2019). Body concerns and BMI as predictors of disordered eating and body mass in girls: An 18-year longitudinal investigation. Journal of Abnormal psychology, 128(1), 32.
  • Espel-Huynh, H.M., Muratore, A. & Lowe, M.R. (2018). A narrative review of the construct of hedonic hunger and its measurement by the Power of Food Scale. Obesity Science & Practice, 4(3), 238-249.
  • Lowe, M.R., Butryn, M.L., & Zhang, Z. (2018). Evaluation of meal replacements and a home food environment intervention for long-term weight loss: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 107(1), 12-19.
  • Winter, S.R., Yokum, S., Stice, E., Osipowicz, K. & Lowe, M.R. (2017). Elevated reward response to receipt of palatable food predicts future weight variability in healthy-weight adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 105(4), 781-789.
  • Lantz, E., Gilberg, C., Rastam, M., Wentz, E. & Lowe, M.R. (2017). Premorbid BMI predicts binge-purge symptomatology among individuals with anorexia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50: 852-855.
  • Winter, S.R., Feig, E.H., Kounios, J., Erickson, B., Berkowitz, S., Lowe, M.R. (2016). The relation of hedonic hunger and restrained eating to lateralized prefrontal activation. Physiology & Behavior, 163, 64-69.
  • Lowe, M. R., Arigo, D., Butryn, M.L., Gilbert, J., Sarwer, D. & Stice, E. (2016). Hedonic hunger prospectively predicts onset and maintenance of loss of control eating among college women. Health Psychology, 35(3), 238-244.
  • Berner, L.A., Arigo, A., Mayer, L., Sarwer D.B., & Lowe, M.R. (2015). Examination of central body fat deposition as a risk factor for loss-of-control eating. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102, 736-744.
  • Lowe, M.R., Bunnell. D.W., Neeren, A.M., Chernyak, Y., & Greberman, L. (2011). Evaluating the real-world effectiveness of cognitive-behavior therapy efficacy research on eating disorders: A case study from a community-based clinical setting. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44:1, 9–18 .