Weight cycling, commonly called yo-yo dieting, refers to the give and take battle of the bulge many Americans face. We lose weight only to put it back on and find ourselves dieting again. The public perception of yo-yo dieting is tainted with suggestions of mental illness and eating disorders. The truth is that weight-cycling happens to most dieters and now we are learning that it is not as harmful as once believed.
Obviously, overweight adults can improve their health by eating nutritiously and exercising regularly. Good physical habits and activity are crucial achieving and maintaining a stable, healthier weight throughout life. In a perfect world, no one would become obese in the first place. In reality, losing weight and keeping it off is hard.
No Evidence against Yo-Yo Dieting
There is no solid evidence to show that yo-yo dieting creates health problems. In fact, Dr. Louis Aronne, an expert on obesity at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City, believes yo-yo dieting can actually prevent disease. He explains that fat cells produce hormones that increase inflammation and blood sugar levels, leading to a host of obesity-related illnesses. When people lose weight, the body produces fewer of these harmful hormones. This benefit continues even if individuals regain some of the weight they once lost.
Studies Show Benefit
In 2002, a study targeted people at risk of developing diabetes. Researchers found that losing 7 percent of body weight reduced the potential of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Men and women in the study regained some of the weight, maintaining a weight loss of 4 percent. Still, the participants showed improved health overall. Based on this, Aronne claims that even short term or mild weight loss benefits health.
New Research Shows Little Harm
New research shows that weight cycling may not be as harmful as the public perceives. A recent study put mice on yo-yo diets. The yo-yo dieting mice lived just as long as those on a low-fat diet. The mice on a high-fat diet experienced shorter lifespans. Animals on the high-fat diet ate more, had higher body fat percentages and blood sugar levels, and weighed more than the mice on low-fat diets. Mice on the yo-yo diet also experienced problems like those of the mice on high-fat diets, but during their low-fat periods were healthier. The animals on the low-fat diet and the ones on the yo-yo diet lived for about two years. Those on the high-fat diet lived about 18 months.
The new research suggests that yo-yo dieting is healthier than not dieting at all, and remaining obese long term is a sure way to shorten lifespan…at least in mice.
Jessica Bosari writes about nutrition and fitness research for LowFatDietPlan.org. The site offers tips and advice for including the latest research into your diet plan.
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