Previous studies have linked excess weight and obesity to changes in heart health, but new research examines whether or not yo-yo dieting—and the ups and downs in body weight that go along with it—may also impact a healthy heart in the long run.
Dr. Somwail Rasla with the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island recently led a study involving more than 150,000 post-menopausal women with varying body weights. At the start of the study, the women answered a series of questions about their weight history. Researchers then followed the study participants for over a decade to record heart health outcomes.
Interestingly, while a history of repeatedly gaining and losing weight in young adulthood was not associated with a higher risk of heart disease and related death among overweight and obese women, the story was very different for normal-weight women who admitted to a history of yo-yo dieting: based on study findings, those women had a 66% higher risk of coronary heart disease death.
“Normal-weight women who said ‘yes’ to weight cycling when they were younger had an increased risk of sudden cardiac death and increased risk of coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and other serious issues,” said Dr. Rasla in a recent news release. He added that the more often they experienced weight fluctuation in their youth, the greater the heart health risk in adulthood—possibly due to the repeated changes in blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat.