Viola Davis recently came under fire for gaining weight for her portrayal of buxom blues legend, Ma Rainey. Social media critics suggested that the actress took space already fuller-figured artists, but another issue that needs examining is how the rapid extreme weight gain and loss can take a toll on the body over time.
In an interview with Indiewire, Davis said “I tried to gain as much [weight] as I could but [Ma Rainey] was really big, close to 300 pounds. I got close to 200. Ann Roth, the great costume designer, she said, ‘Viola, what body do you want to look like?’ And the body that I loved — once again I grew up with a lot of big women that I thought were the most beautiful woman in the world. So for me, it was Aretha Franklin. I wanted that body.”
In December, the actress showed off her subsequent weight loss in an Instagram photo thus far, which came presumably about a year after putting on pounds for the role.
So how does rapid weight gain and loss affect the body long term?
“Half a pound to two pounds per week is what’s universally considered safe and sustainable,” says Jessica Crandall Snyder in an interview with Healthline. She is a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Losing weight too quickly, especially through the starvation method, can result in a litany of side effects, some more harmful than others.
According to research from Stanford University Medical Center, a small study investigated people with pre-diabetic symptoms to look at baseline levels of gene expression, protein production, microbiome, and genome in 23 subjects.
Some were insulin-resistant (who showed unusual levels of inflammation), while others were still insulin-sensitive (and did not show inflammation).