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Yo-Yo Dieting Increases Heart Disease for Post-Menopausal Women

Published on 21st November 2016

Women who have been through the menopause and who are trying to lose weight should perhaps take note of a new study from researchers at Brown University in the US suggesting that yo-yo dieting could increase the chances of death from heart disease.

Yo-yo dieting is where you repeatedly lose and regain weight, also known as weight cycling, and it’s been suggested that this kind of attempted weight loss can actually be very hazardous to your health. Women at the start of the study who were classed as normal weight but who lost and regained the pounds had around three and a half times higher risk for sudden cardiac death than those who maintained a stable weight.

What’s more, yo-yo dieting in normal-weight women was also linked to a 66 per cent increased risk for death from coronary heart disease. And no increase in death was seen among those who said they gained weight but didn’t lose it or those who lost weight without putting it back on.

Lead author of the study Dr Somwail Rasla said: “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. More research is needed before any recommendations can be made for clinical care regarding the risks of weight cycling since these results apply only to postmenopausal women and not to younger-aged women or men.”

According to the World Heart Federation, the role your diet plays is crucial in the development and prevention of cardiovascular disease – and the good news is that it’s one of the key aspects you can change that will have an impact on all other cardiovascular risk factors. Maintaining a diet low in saturated fats, including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, seems to be the way to go – compared to the typical diet of someone in the developed world, this apparently has a 73 per cent reduction in the risk of new major cardiac events.

Abnormal fat levels have a strong association with coronary artery disease risk, as well as heart attack and coronary death. A diet high in saturated fats like cheese and trans fats (which you’ll find in fast food, cakes and cookies) can result in high levels of cholesterol. However, unsaturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can be found in vegetables, seeds, nuts and fish, are beneficial for heart health.

Another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease is hypertension or high blood pressure. If your diet is high in sodium, you are at risk of developing hypertension, so reducing your intake of salt could be wise if you’re keen to look after your heart at the moment.