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Weight cycling leads to poor health outcomes

Worried young woman holding bathroom scales

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According to research, roughly 80 per cent of people who lose weight end up regaining the weight. This body-weight fluctuation is known as weight cycling — and when associated with diet it is also known as yo-yo dieting. Weight cycling has been associated with higher mortality and cardiovascular events in patients with coronary artery disease. However, the relationship between body-weight fluctuations and health-related outcomes in the general population is limited.

The researchers found that participants with high weight cycling were more obese and had higher blood pressure.

Researchers from Seoul National University (SNU) College of Medicine and Seoul National University Bundang Hospital in Seongnam, Korea examined 3,78 men and women from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study in a 16-year prospective cohort study. The individual fluctuations in body weight were calculated by average successive variability (ASV), and health-related outcomes were collected every two years.

The researchers found that participants with high weight cycling were more obese and had higher blood pressure and HbA1c (blood sugar) levels at baseline than those with a low ASV of body weight. Weight cycling was thus associated with a higher risk of death. However, people with obesity who experienced more weight cycling were less likely to develop diabetes than other participants. For people looking to lose weight and reduce their diabetes risk, the ill effects of weight cycling were overshadowed by the benefits of weight loss. The researchers found no association between weight cycling and cardiovascular events.

According to research, once an individual loses weight, the body reduces the amount of energy expended at rest, during exercise and daily activities, while increasing hunger. This combination can lead to weight gain and the risk of obesity. The constant losing and gaining of weight are thus associated with poor health outcomes and a higher risk of death.

Source: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!