THE EFFECT OF YO-YO DIETS ON RISK OF HEART DISEASE IN WOMEN

  • by: Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus Editorial Staff
  • July 27th, 2022

A study from Columbia University in New York reveals that crash diets and sudden weight gain compromise women’s cardiovascular health. The preliminary results of the research were presented to the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention – Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions (March 2019). Yo-yo diets are blamed for making it difficult to control major risk factors for heart disease.

INCREASE IN HEART DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH WEIGHT SHIFTS

It is mainly the do-it-yourself diets that cause what is called the “yo-yo” effect. According to the results of the survey conducted by the group of researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, it would be precisely the weight loss associated with a quick weight gain, within a year, that increases the risk of heart disease in women. Achieving a healthy weight is one of the main recommendations made to overweight women for heart health. However, maintaining the weight loss and weight fluctuations themselves can affect cardio-vascular health.

The study involved a group of nearly 500 adult American women, with an average age of 37, of different ethnicities, who were overweight (with a body mass index of 26). The participants were followed for 5 years, in which they reported how many times (excluding any pregnancies) they had lost 4.5 to 10 kilos (10 to 22 lbs.) after a diet, and then regained all the weight lost within a year. To calculate the score related to the risk of developing heart disease, the researchers used 7 risk factors (Life’s Simple 7) defined by the American Heart Association’s (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, body mass index, nutrition, physical activity and smoking status).

DRASTIC DIETS ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE

Many (73%) of the women participating in the study stated that they had been subjected to at least one episode of the “yo-yo” effect diet. Among these, the probability of having an optimal score was 65% lower, compared to women who, despite being overweight, had no weight changes. Likewise, women subjected to drastic and rapid weight changes were 51% less likely to have a moderate score. In addition, the “yo-yo” effect was correlated with an 82% less chance of being normal weight (i.e. with a body mass index between 18.5 and 25, indicating a healthy weight-form situation).

The risk of heart disease, then, increases with the increase in “yo-yo” episodes. Furthermore, the researchers noted that the negative impact of this type of diet was higher for those women who had not had pregnancy, presumably younger. This additional data indicates that age also plays an important role: that is, the earlier the “yo-yo” episodes begin, the worse their impact will be. To confirm these results in relation to age, it would be advisable to continue the study bringing it up to ten years of follow-up. In any case, further investigations are needed, both to investigate the cause-effect relationship between weight changes and heart disease, and to study the effect on the male population.

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