The Impact of Weight Fluctuations on Heart Health

Key Takeaways:

  • Yo-yo dieting or weight fluctuation, especially losing at least 10 pounds and gaining it back within a year, has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
  • The study suggests frequent episodes of yo-yo dieting also potentially hinders individuals from maintaining an optimal weight with 82% less likely to stay within a healthy range.
  • The study included around 500 women, mostly from racial or ethnic minorities, and it was found that nearly three-quarters of them had engaged in yo-yo dieting.
  • Participants with a history of yo-yo dieting were 51% less likely to have a moderate overall score and 65% less likely to have an optimal score according to American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines.
  • In order to prevent these potential risks, adopting a sustainable dietary pattern such as a plant-based or Mediterranean diet may be beneficial. Small and consistent lifestyle changes that can be maintained in the long term are recommended.

Many individuals battle to keep their weight within the desired range, but unexpected weight loss and subsequent regain, commonly referred to as yo-yo dieting, may not be beneficial for heart health. This cyclic pattern has bigger implications than just physical appearance.

Yo-Yo Dieting and its Effects on Heart Health

Recent research suggests that women who lose at least 10 pounds only to gain it back within a year may be putting themselves at higher risk for heart disease. It appears that the more frequently someone undertakes yo-yo dieting, the more severe the damage to their heart health becomes.

Yo-yo dieting doesn’t help individuals maintain a healthy weight range either. The study discovered that individuals undertaking frequent yo-yo diets are 82% less likely to maintain an optimal weight.

“Weight fluctuations are quite common, with the range being from zero to 20 cycles. Regardless, a history of one or more episodes of weight cycling was associated with poorer health outcomes,” stated the study’s author Brooke Aggarwal, an assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center located in New York City.

About the Research Study

Approximately 500 women from the New York City region, most of them belonging to racial or ethnic minorities, took part in the study. The average age of the participants was 37 years. The average Body Mass Index (BMI) was 26, indicating that most were slightly overweight.

The study revealed that nearly three-quarters of the participants had engaged in yo-yo dieting at one point or another.

The American Heart Association’s “Life Simple 7” guidelines were utilized to assess the condition of the participants’ hearts. These guidelines serve as a comprehensive measure of how well individuals manage risk factors for heart disease.

Correlation Between Yo-Yo Dieting and a Healthy Heart

Women who had a history of yo-yo dieting were 51% less likely to have a moderate overall score according to the Life’s Simple 7 guidelines. Furthermore, they were 65% less likely to have an optimal score.

The frequency and the speed at which a woman gained back lost weight negatively impacted her Life’s Simple 7 score. Women who had never been pregnant appeared to be more susceptible to the effects of yo-yo dieting.

Brooke Aggarwal cautioned that starting yo-yo dieting early in life appears to increase cardiovascular risks. The research did not establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship. However, it was observed that weight loss often leads to a reduction in muscle mass and the regained weight is typically fat. Accumulation of this fat often occurs in the abdomen, which has been linked to an increase in the risk of heart disease.

Recommendations for a Healthier Lifestyle

In light of these findings, it seems crucial to adopt a sustainable dietary pattern. A mostly plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet seems to be a suitable choice.

Small consistent changes that can be maintained over the long term could be more beneficial. These changes do not cause a “rebound effect”.

Presenting the findings

Aggarwal will be presenting these findings at an upcoming American Heart Association meeting in Houston. The findings presented at these meetings are generally regarded as preliminary until they have been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More Information

Find out how you can better protect your heart health by following American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 guidelines from the given link.

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