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Yo-yo dieting may be dangerous for women's hearts

Yo-yo dieting may be dangerous for women's hearts

Yo-yo dieting may increase the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women, a new study claims.

Study leader Dr. Somwail Rasla of Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island has questioned whether women with normal weights could be putting their hearts in danger by on-and-off dieting.

In the study, Dr. Rasla and his colleagues looked at data from 158,000 women over the age of 50, who had self-reported their weight history and were categorised as normal weight, overweight or obese. During an 11-year follow-up, they were tracked for sudden cardiac death and coronary heart disease death.

The researchers found that for overweight and obese women, weight cycling was not associated with the risk of heart disease-related deaths.

But the most surprising findings came from the group of normal-weight women who confessed to weight cycling. They were three and a half times more likely to have sudden cardiac death than women with stable weights. Additionally, yo-yo dieting in normal-weight women was associated with a 66 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease deaths, according to the research.

"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," Dr. Rasla said.

The frequency of weight cycling - how often the women had lost and regained 10 pounds or more - was also a risk factor.

"The more cycling, the more hazardous (to their hearts)," he added.

However, the researchers noted the study has some limitations in that it was observational and no cause and effect relationship could be confirmed. In addition, the study relied on self-reports, which could be inaccurate, and it included only older women.

"Weight cycling is an emerging global health concern associated with attempts of weight loss, but there have been inconsistent results about the health hazards for those who experience weight cycling behaviour," added Dr. Rasla.

The study results were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.

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