Perils found in 'yo-yo' dieting

June 27, 1991|By New York Times News Service

"Yo-yo" dieting, the cycles of weight loss and weight gain endured by millions of Americans, including many who are not overweight, can have serious and even fatal consequences, a new study has shown.

The study, being published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, reveals that repeated changes in weight, irrespective of a person's initial weight, are linked to an increased death rate overall and to at least doubling the risk of dying of heart disease.

Dr. Kelly D. Brownell, a psychologist and weight specialist at Yale University who directed the study, said the findings suggest that the harmful effects of weight cycling might be equal to the risks of simply remaining obese, which has been found to double the chances of dying.

The findings are based on a 32-year study of 3,130 men and women in the Framingham Heart Study in Massachusetts.

The risk of heart disease, death from heart disease and death from all causes was 25 percent to 100 percent higher in the group with the most weight fluctuation, regardless of each person's initial weight, blood pressure, smoking habits, cholesterol level and level of physical activity.

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