If you’re always on the lookout for the new diet that will help you lose the extra pounds and eat healthier, a new study suggests that this may actually be putting you at risk for some serious health problems. Even though you may see the pounds melt away on a particular diet, losing and gaining weight over and over makes it much more likely to have a stroke or heart attack.
CBS News reports about the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests a risk of heart problems and even death to those who tend to yo-yo diet. The study finds that keeping your weight steady, seems to be a better option than losing and gaining many times. All of the participants involved in the study had pre-existing heart conditions, but for those whose weight fluctuated the most, the study reports that they were 136% more likely to suffer a stroke, 117% more likely to have a heart attack and 124% more at risk of death. Patients who saw this increased risk were either overweight or obese at the beginning of the study.
Though this is the first study that looked at the risks of yo-yo dieting on people with pre-existing heart conditions, it’s not the first to look at the dangers of fluctuating weight over a lifetime. Sripal Bangalore, M.D., director of the cardiovascular outcomes group at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains how earlier studies have shown even as little 10 years of yo-yo diets can be a detriment to otherwise healthy people.
Dr. Banglamore says, “Back in the 90s there was a study done in patients with no heart disease, who were pretty healthy, that found that weight fluctuations over a decade actually increased the risk of death from heart disease.” Regarding the current study he adds, “So we wanted to see if — in patients who already have heart disease, where there is so much emphasis on weight loss — is this weight cycling harmful.”
Though experts are not entirely sure why there is increased risk of health problems for yo-yo dieters, they think it has something to do with the stress that kind of constant changes places on our bodies. Director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University Alice H. Lichtenstein, “What this study clearly demonstrates is something we have suspected for a long time, that gaining, losing and re-gaining weight is stressful on the body.” Lichtenstein stresses the importance of figuring out a way to keep the weight off. She says, “Keeping the lost weight off is harder and we don’t have as many successful programs. Hence, more emphasis needs to be put on finding successful strategies for maintaining weight loss. It needs to be an integral part of weight loss programs, not an add on.”
What do you think of the study that suggests yo-yo dieting can be very risky to your health?
Do you tend to lose and then gain weight back again and again? How do you maintain a healthy balance?