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.