Repeatedly losing and regaining weight, known as weight cycling or yo-yo dieting, may increase the risk of death from heart disease among postmenopausal women.
According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016, the cycle of losing and regaining weight may increase the risk of heart disease among postmenopausal women who were of normal weight gain.
“Weight cycling is an emerging global health concern associated with attempts of weight loss, but there have been inconsistent results about the health hazards for those who experience weight cycling behavior,” said Somwail Rasla, M.D., study lead author and internal medicine resident at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Researchers classified self-reported weight history from 158,063 post-menopausal women into four categories: stable weight, steady gain, maintained weight loss, and weight cycling. During a follow-up of 11.4 years, they found:
- Women considered “normal-weight” at the start of the study who lost and regained weight had about three and a half times higher risk for sudden cardiac death than women whose weight remained stable.
- Weight cycling in the normal-weight women was also associated with a 66 percent increased risk for coronary heart disease.
- No increase in either type of death occurred among overweight or obese women reporting weight cycling.
- Similarly, no increase in death occurred among women who reported that they gained weight but did not lose it or, in the opposite scenario, that they lost weight without gaining it back.