In a new study, researchers found yo-yo dieting may increase heart disease risk in women.
The research was conducted by a team at Columbia University.
Yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, refers to the cyclical weight loss and weight gain.
Usually, a person can lose weight successfully but cannot maintain weight loss in the long run. S/he begins to gain the weight back after the weight loss.
The whole process resembles the up-down motion of a yo-yo.
Previous studies have shown that a healthy weight is important for heart health and that fluctuations in body weight may make it harder to have a healthy heart.
For example, one study found that men who weight-cycled had twice the risk of cardiovascular death in middle age.
In the current study, the team examined 485 women whose average age was 37 years.
These women had an average body mass index (BMI) 26, which is in the overweight range.
They reported how many times they had lost at least 10 pounds, only to regain the weight within a year.
In addition, the researchers tested the women’s heart health using the American Heart Association’s – Life’s Simple 7.
Life’s Simple 7 is a measure of how well people control important heart disease risk factors, including BMI, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, smoking, physical activity, and diet.
The team found that most of the women reported at least one time of yo-yo weight cycling. Some women experienced as many as 20 times of yo-yo dieting.
Moreover, women with one or more episodes of yo-yo weight loss were less likely to have healthy body weight, and their heart health levels decreased.
The researchers also found the influence of weight-cycling on the overall Life’s Simple 7 score was strongest in women who had never been pregnant.
These women were younger and had a yo-yo dieting at an earlier age.
The researchers suggest that in the future, research is needed to find critical periods for the harm of yo-yo dieting on heart disease risk.
It is important to see if the harm is more dangerous at an earlier age.
They also plan to extend the current study five to ten years to confirm the findings and find out the long-term effects.
The lead author of the study is Brooke Aggarwal, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2019.
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