Regaining weight after losing it on a diet is much more common than keeping the weight off. Often, dieters gain back more than they lost, and it’s a common experience to have an even harder time losing weight the next time. “Weight cycling” is the term for these repeating episodes of intentional weight loss followed by unintentional regain, also often called “yo-yo dieting.”
Research Reveals Health Dangers of Weight Cycling
In addition to making the next attempt at weight loss more difficult, repeated cycles of weight loss and gain have damaging effects on the body.
A study presented at the American Heart Association’s March 2019 Scientific Sessions reported that weight cycling was associated with poorer cardiovascular health parameters. Women were assigned a cardiovascular risk score based on 7 factors: smoking, diet, physical activity, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. Women with a history of weight cycling were less likely to have a favorable BMI and less likely to have a favorable overall cardiovascular health score.1 Previous research also linked bouts of weight cycling to a greater risk of endometrial cancer.2 It is also worth noting that in the cardiovascular study, over 70% of the 485 women reported having a history of weight cycling (at least one instance of weight loss and regain), highlighting how common this issue is.1