Yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, refers to a pattern of losing weight and quickly regaining it that’s common among overweight and obese people.
While research on the consequences of yo-yo dieting is inconclusive so far, a new study from New York University shows that the cycle of weight loss and weight gain can raise the risk of heart problems.
The study suggests that people who experience regular weight fluctuations of eight to 10 pounds are more likely to suffer heart problems, including heart disease and heart attacks, versus those who experience changes of two pounds or less.
The risk of death, heart attack or stroke is more than two times as high for yo-yo-dieters than for those who maintain a relatively stable body weight.
So why does yo-yo dieting have an impact on heart health? The lead doctor in the study hypothesizes that the dramatic changes in weight create stress on the body and prompts hormonal changes that affect the heart.
Other researchers argue that yo-yo dieting may indicate other problems or risk factors that themselves are the cause of the problems exhibited by yo-yo dieters.
While scientific results are still mixed, it’s well-established that the majority of individuals who lose weight are unable to maintain their weight loss for an extended period of time.
As we have discussed on this blog, losing weight and keeping it off is a tall order. Committing to long-term weight loss and maintenance is incredibly difficult and relapse is likely. Nonetheless, it’s important to reduce weight in overweight and obese individuals in order to reduce the risk of a range of health problems.
Because it can be so hard for people who are overweight or obese to lose weight long-term, Dr. Dirk recommends sticking to a weight loss strategy that’s proven to work in the long run rather than jumping from fad diet to fad diet. Eating a low-carb, high-protein diet and committing to 60 minutes of daily physical activity is the only proven, healthy, sustainable weight loss plan.