We’ve all either witnessed it or experienced it firsthand: the struggle to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight over time. Long-term weight loss starts and ends with healthy, balanced eating, but for too many people, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to sustain. Sure, you can skip desserts and cut back on French fries, eat more fruits and vegetables and more for a few weeks or months, but after that, it’s back to the comfort foods that sustained you (and your unhealthy weight) for all those years. Then a few months later, it’s back to the healthy diet in an attempt to lose the weight you just lost and then regained.
That’s the essence of yo-yo dieting, and it can be a real burden on your weight, your emotional state – and your heart. A recently released American Heart Association study found postmenopausal women were more likely to experience coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death if they participated in yo-yo dieting. Researchers followed the women for more than 11 years after recording baseline weight and weight histories, including how often they lost / gained weight). Over the study period, researchers tracked deaths due to CHD and sudden cardiac death.
Surprisingly, women who were normal weight at the start of the study, but confessed to off-and-on dieting (and thus, weight cycling) were more likely to die from CHD or sudden cardiac death than women who maintained a stable weight (even if classified as overweight / obese at baseline).
There are many ways to lose weight and keep it off, and of course, exercise is an essential component along with proper diet. The key is moderation and consistency, two factors yo-yo dieters find challenging. If you can’t seem to keep the weight off, particularly if weight cycling seems to be your way of life, talk to your doctor about what you could do better to make the next time you lose weight the final time.