Yo-yo dieting is NOT bad for you and won't stop you losing weight in the long run
No difference in the ability to lose weight or take part in exercises between those who yo-yo dieted and those who didn't
16:05 GMT, 15 August 2012
Yo-yo dieting may be demoralising, but people trying to watch their weight will be relieved to hear that it won't stop them from shedding pounds in the long run.
Researchers had feared that people who shift the weight only to pile it on again could be damaging their health.
However, a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has become the first to show yo-yo diets do not have a long-term effect on metabolism or the ability to lose weight later in life.
Finding it impossible to resist that donut It's worth persevering with the diet as repeatedly gaining and losing weight will not ruin your chances long-term
Lead researcher Dr Anne McTiernan said: 'To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the effect of prior weight cycling on the body composition, metabolic and hormonal changes induced by a comprehensive lifestyle intervention in free-living women.'
She added: 'A history of unsuccessful weight loss should not dissuade an individual from future attempts to shed pounds or diminish the role of a healthy diet and regular physical activity in successful weight management.'
The researchers randomly assigned
439 overweight-to-obese, sedentary women, ages 50 to 75, to one of four
groups: reduced-calorie diet only, exercise only (mainly brisk walking),
reduced-calorie diet plus exercise and a control group that received no
At the end of the year long study,
participants on the diet-only and diet-plus-exercise groups lost an
average of 10 per cent of their starting weight, which was the goal of
The analysis aimed to determine
whether women with a history of moderate or severe weight fluctuations
were at a disadvantage compared to non-weight-cyclers when it came to
Around a fifth of the women had a history of yo-yo dieting defined by losing and regaining more than 20
pounds on three or more occasions. A quarter reported
losing 10 or more pounds on three or more occasions.
Severe yo-yo dieters were an
average of nearly 20 pounds heavier at the start of the study by the end. However,
there was no difference in the ability to lose weight or take part in
the exercises between those who yo-yo dieted and those who didn’t.
Nor was there any significant
difference from the non-cyclers in terms of the impact of diet or
diet-plus-exercise on weight loss, percentage of body fat and lean
muscle mass gained or lost.
Other physiological factors such
as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and blood concentrations of
hormones such as leptin (which helps make one feel full) and adiponectin
(which helps regulate glucose levels) also did not differ significantly
among those whose weight fluctuated and those whose did not.
The findings are important as it could encourage overweight people to persevere with trying to slim down.
'We know there’s an association
between obesity, sedentary behavior and increased risk of certain
cancers,' McTiernan said.
'The World Health Organization estimates that a
quarter to a third of cancers could be prevented with maintenance of
normal weight and keeping a physically active lifestyle.'
The findings were published online in the journal Metabolism.