The Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting

The Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting

Yo-yo dieting is a recent phenomenon and, it turns out, a dangerous one. Researchers tracked 158,063 postmenopausal women over 11.4 years and found women who were a normal weight when the study started and then lost and regained 10 pounds or more had a 66 percent increase in death from coronary heart disease and were three and half times more likely to experience sudden cardiac death than women whose weight remained stable.

Interestingly, no increase in either type of death occurred among overweight or obese women who reported that kind of yo-yo weight cycling (perhaps because their risks were already increased) or among women who gained or lost weight and then remained stable (stability turns out to be key for health).  

If you’re trying to take off excess weight, take your eyes off the scale and set your sights on lifestyle changes that will get you to a healthy weight and let you stay there: Exercise regularly (10,000 steps a day or the equivalent); don’t smoke; eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and veggies daily, only 100 percent whole grains, and no added sugar and sugar syrups. You can also try some yo-yo tricks: Walking the dog is great exercise!

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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