Yo-yo dieting dangerous to your heart
Yo-yo dieting — repeatedly losing and regaining weight — increased the risk of dying from heart disease among postmenopausal women who started out at a normal weight in a new study.
“Weight cycling is an emerging global health concern associated with attempts of weight loss, but there have been inconsistent results about the health hazards for those who experience weight cycling behavior,” said the study’s lead investigator Somwail Rasla, M.D., of Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island. The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.
Previous studies indicate that being overweight in midlife increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. But it’s unclear whether losing and regaining weight in adulthood also increases the risk of death from these heart diseases.
Researchers classified self-reported weight history from 158,063 postmenopausal women into four categories: stable weight, steady gain, maintained weight loss and weight cycling. During a follow-up of 11.4 years, they found:
- Women considered normal-weight at the start of the study who lost and regained weight had about three and a half times higher risk for sudden cardiac death than women whose weight remained stable.
- Weight cycling in the normal-weight women was also associated with a 66 percent increased risk for dying from coronary heart disease.
- No increase in either type of death occurred among overweight or obese women reporting weight cycling.
- Similarly, no increase in deaths occurred among women who reported that they gained weight but did not lose it or, in the opposite scenario, that they lost weight without gaining it back.
The study has several limitations. The study was observational, meaning it could only show an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship. In addition, the study relied on self-reports, which could be inaccurate and included only older women. Since sudden cardiac death occurred relatively infrequently, the cases that did occur could have resulted from chance.
“More research is needed before any recommendations can be made for clinical care regarding the risks of weight cycling, since these results apply only to postmenopausal women and not to younger-aged women or men,” Rasla said.
About Yo-yo Diet and associated risks:
Weight cycling is the repeated loss and regain of body weight. When weight cycling is the result of dieting, it is often called “yo-yo” dieting. A weight cycle can range from small weight losses and gains (5-10 lbs. per cycle) to large changes in weight (50 lbs. or more per cycle).
Some research links weight cycling with certain health risks. To avoid potential risks, most experts recommend that obese adults adopt healthy eating and regular physical activity habits to achieve and maintain a healthier weight for life. Non-obese adults should try to maintain their weight through healthy eating and regular physical activity.
If I regain lost weight, won’t losing it again be even harder?
A person who repeatedly loses and gains weight should not have more trouble trying to reach and maintain a healthy weight than a person attempting to lose weight for the first time. Most studies show that weight cycling does not affect one’s metabolic rate-the rate at which the body burns fuel (food) for energy. Based on these findings, weight cycling should not affect the success of future weight-loss efforts. Metabolism does, however, slow down as a person ages. In addition, older people are often less physically active than when they were younger. Regardless of your age, making regular physical activity as well as healthy eating habits a part of your life will aid weight loss and improve health overall.
Will weight cycling leave me with more fat and less muscle than if I had not dieted at all?
Weight cycling has not been proven to increase the amount of fat tissue in people who lose and regain weight. Researchers have found that after a weight cycle, those who return to their original weights have the same amount of fat and lean tissue (muscle) as they did prior to weight cycling. People who exercise during a weight cycle may actually gain muscle.
Some people are concerned that weight cycling can put more fat around their abdominal (stomach) area. People who tend to carry excess fat in the stomach area (apple-shaped), instead of in the hips, thighs, and buttocks (pear-shaped), are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease, andhigh blood pressure. Studies have not found, however, that after a weight cycle, people have more fat around their stomachs than they did before weight cycling.
Is weight cycling harmful to my health?
Some studies suggest that weight cycling may increase the risk for certain health problems. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gallbladder disease. For adults who are not obese and do not have weight-related health problems, experts recommend maintaining a stable weight to avoid any potential health risks associated with weight cycling. Obese adults, however, should continue to try to achieve modest weight loss to improve overall health and reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases.
Losing and regaining weight may have a negative psychological effect if you let yourself become discouraged or depressed. Weight cycling should not be a reason to “feel like a failure.” Instead it is a reason to refocus on making long-term changes in your diet and level of physical activity to help you keep off the pounds you lose.
Is staying overweight healthier than weight cycling?
It is not known for certain whether weight cycling causes health problems. The diseases associated with being obese, however, are well known. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
- Gallbladder disease.
Not every adult who is overweight or obese has the same risk for disease. Whether you are a man or woman, the amount and location of your fat, and your family history of disease all play a role in determining your disease risk. Experts agree, however, that even a modest weight loss of 10 percent of body weight over a period of six months or more can improve the health of an adult who is overweight or obese.
Further research on the effects of weight cycling is needed. In the meantime, if you are obese or are overweight and suffer from weight-related health problems, try to improve your health by achieving a modest weight loss. Although weight cycling may have some effect on disease risk, the serious health problems resulting from obesity are clearly understood. If you need to lose weight, you should be ready to commit to lifelong changes in your eating and physical activity behaviors.
If you are not obese or overweight with weight-related health problems, maintain your weight. Focus on adopting healthful eating habits and enjoying regular physical activity to manage weight and promote health for life.
The original article was published on November 15th, 2016 at American Heart Association News Stories and