Yo-Yo Dieting Is Bad for Women's Hearts

'Weight cycling' appears to be a significant risk factor for otherwise healthy women
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2016 11:47 AM CST
In this Oct. 17, 2016 photo, Oprah Winfrey attends the world premiere of "BOO! A Madea Halloween" in Los Angeles.   (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Lots of people are trying to lose weight—24% of American men and 38% of American women—but most who succeed also gain it back quickly, reports Medical News Daily. This so-called "weight cycling" or "yo-yo effect" could end up being quite hard on the hearts of both men and women, and is significantly more common an effect in women. So report researchers at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016, where they've presented their findings. They followed 153,063 post-menopausal women for more than a decade and found normal-weight women who said they'd weight-cycled were 3.5 times more likely to die from a heart attack than women whose weights were stable. They were 66% more likely to die from coronary heart disease, reports Crossroads Today.

"Weight cycling is an emerging global health concern associated with attempts of weight loss," the study's lead author says in a press release. "But there have been inconsistent results about the health hazards for those who experience weight cycling behavior." While this study has a few limitations—including that people self-reported their weight fluctuations, and that normal-weight people suddenly losing or gaining weight may be suffering from other conditions—researchers say it lays the groundwork for future research into the effects of yo-yo dieting on cardiovascular health. "You should never lose weight in a drastic fashion," the lead researcher adds. "If someone is a normal weight, keep it stable." (Here's why one woman says 'no thanks' to Oprah's latest weight loss pitch.)

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