You know all of those crash diets you keep starting… and then stopping… and then starting again? Well, according to a new study, postmenopausal women who experience this dramatic weight cycling (losing and gaining weight, a.k.a. yo-yo dieting), may be putting their health at serious risk.
Researchers tracked nearly 160,000 postmenopausal women, and placed each into one of four categories upon entering the study: stable weight, steady weight gain, maintained weight loss or weight cycling. Over the course of 11 years, scientists discovered that women who entered the study at a normal weight, but then began to bounce between gaining and losing weight were three and a half times more likely to die from cardiac arrest than those whose weight stayed the same, regardless of whether they were overweight or obese. Three and a half times! Let that sink in for a second, or three and a half seconds.
This same group of “normal weight” women with fluctuating waistlines were also 66 per cent more likely to die from coronary heart disease. All because of dramatic diet changes—one month of eating all the sweets and drinking all the wine, two months of lettuce, repeat.
“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 behaviour,” said Somwail Rasla, M.D. and lead author on the study, whose research is finally shedding some light.
So while dieting might seem good for your waistline, the reality is, it stresses your heart out a lot.
Interestingly, however, is that women who gained weight during menopause, and never lost it (or the opposite: lost it, and never regained it back) didn’t have the same risk of cardiac arrest or coronary heart disease as their normal weight/yo-yo dieting peers.
“More research is needed before any recommendations can be made for clinical care regarding the risks of weight cycling,” said Rasla, addressing the fact that the study focused strictly on postmenopausal women, and not on men or younger females.
We’ll be waiting for that “more research,” but in the meantime, we’re doing our best to main a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Cause that’s always in style.