Yo-yo dieting, also called weight cycling, is a pattern of losing weight and then regaining it. It's commonly thought that yo-yo dieting leads to long-term struggles with weight and a greater risk of obesity.
Numerous studies have tried to determine if these concerns are valid. Researchers recently reviewed 31 studies on weight cycling and its relationship to obesity and diabetes. Here are some of the findings:
- A total of 19 studies examined the effects of weight cycling on metabolic risk factors for obesity. Of these, more than half (58 percent) found an association between weight cycling and increased weight and body fat, specifically belly fat, subsequently increasing the risk of obesity.
- Eight studies examined the impact of weight cycling on weight gain and obesity risk. Three studies reported that weight cycling appears to increase the likelihood of future weight gain.
- Of the studies that looked at risk of type 2 diabetes, the majority (76 percent) concluded that weight cycling did not increase blood sugar levels nor risk of type 2 diabetes.
Thus, the researchers concluded that there's inconclusive evidence to support a connection between yo-yo dieting and increased risk of obesity.
Aug. 26, 2020
- Mackie GM, et al. Does weight cycling promote obesity and metabolic risk factors? Obesity Research & Clinical Practice. 2017;11:131.