Weight cycling or the constant losing and gaining of weight is associated with a higher risk of death, a study claims. By some estimates, 80% of people who lose weight will gradually regain it to end up at the same weight or even heavier than they were before they went on a diet, researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found this was because once an individual loses weight, the body typically reduces the amount of energy expended at rest, during exercise and daily activities while increasing hunger.
This combination of lower energy expenditure and hunger creates a “perfect metabolic storm” of conditions for weight gain.
“This study shows that weight cycling can heighten a person’s risk of death,” said Hak C Jang, a professor at Seoul National University (SNU) in Korea.
“However, we also concluded that weight loss as a result of weight cycling can ultimately reduce the risk of developing diabetes in people with obesity,” Jang said.
In the 16-year study, researchers examined 3,678 men and women and found weight cycling was associated with a higher risk of death. People with obesity who experienced more weight cycling were less likely to develop diabetes than other study participants.
The health benefits of weight loss overshadowed the adverse effects of weight cycling for individuals with obesity looking to lower their diabetes risk, researchers said.