The yo-yo effect affects 10 to 40% of people. Does it have such a negative impact on the metabolism and the chances of permanent weight loss as previously thought?

It turns out that the yo-yo effect, i.e. the alternating weight loss and the recovery of overweight, is not as harmful as it all seemed. Therefore, anyone who has already experienced failure in slimming, losing weight and then quickly regaining overweight, should not give up trying to get a proper weight.

In the US, 75% of people are overweight or obese and it is estimated that at least half of American women are currently on a diet. It is known that excessive body weight, especially obesity, poses a health risk, raising the risk of some types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It is estimated that as much as 25 to 30% of all cancer cases are associated with overweight and sedentary lifestyle, which means that maintaining a healthy body weight and leading an active lifestyle can be prevented.

The study involved 439 women suffering from overweight or obesity and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Ladies were from 50 to 75 years old. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups using only a reduced calorie diet, using only exercises (brisk walking), using a reduction diet with exercise, and to a control group that did not use either diet or exercise. After a year, ladies from groups using diet and diet along with exercises reduced their body weight by an average of 10%.

The aim of the study was to determine whether ladies who had previously experienced the yo-yo effect had any difficulty in re-shedding excess weight compared to women who had not previously experienced weight gain after a slimming treatment. In the study group, 42% of women (110 women) had previous experiences with the yo-yo effect – at least three times after losing weight at least 5 kg again in the rear. At the beginning of the study, these ladies were on average 10 kg heavier than women who had not experienced the yo-yo effect so far. However, after the end of the trial, there were no significant differences in the body’s response to slimming actions. In all the women, the weight decreased similarly, the fat content in the body decreased as well and the muscle mass changed. Also blood pressure, hormone levels (leptin and adiponectin) and insulin sensitivity to the body were the same in women who experienced the yo-yo effect and did not know it. These are the first results of the study to assess whether the yo-yo effect changes metabolism. The conclusions flowing from them are optimistic and confirm that even earlier, numerous unsuccessful attempts to lose weight do not reduce the chances of achieving a correct body weight.

Let, therefore, the previous failures do not discourage anyone from making efforts to get rid of excess weight! The chances of success in the case of people who have experienced the yo-yo effect are the same as in the case of people who did not have to deal with it.

The research was carried out at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and their results were published in August this year in the online issue of  Metabolism.

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