Is Weight Cycling?
Weight cycling is the repeated loss and regain of body
weight. When weight cycling is the result of dieting, it
is often called "yo-yo" dieting. A weight cycle can
range from small weight losses and gains (5-10 lbs.
per cycle) to large changes in weight (50 lbs. or more
Is It Harmful?
You may have heard stories in the press claiming that
weight cycling may be harmful to your health. You also
may have heard that staying at one weight is better
for you than weight cycling, even if you are obese.
However, no convincing evidence supports these
claims, and most obesity researchers believe that
obese individuals should continue to try to control
their body weight.
Won't Losing It Again Be Even Harder?
People who repeatedly lose and regain weight should
not experience more difficulty losing weight each time
they diet. Most studies have shown that weight
cycling does not affect one's metabolic rate. Metabolic
rate is the rate at which food is burned for energy.
Based on these findings, weight cycling should not
affect the success of future weight loss efforts.
However, everyone, whether they have dieted or not,
experiences a slowing of the metabolism as they age.
In addition, older people are often less physically
active then when they were younger. Therefore,
people often find it more difficult to lose weight as
they get older.
Will Weight Cycling Leave Me With More Fat?
Weight cycling has not been proven to increase the
amount of fat tissue in people who lose and regain
weight. Researchers have found that after a weight
cycle people have the same amount of fat and lean
tissue as they did prior to weight cycling.
What About Abdominal Fat?
Some people are concerned that weight cycling can
cause more fat to collect in the abdominal area.
People who tend to carry their excess fat in the
abdominal area (apple-shaped), instead of in the hips
and buttocks (pear-shaped), are more likely to develop
the health problems associated with obesity. However,
studies have not found that after a weight cycle
people have more abdominal fat than they did before
Is Weight Cycling Harmful to My Health?
A number of studies have suggested that weight
cycling (and weight loss) may be associated with an
increase in mortality. Unfortunately, these studies
were not designed to answer the question of how
intentional weight loss by an obese person affects
health. Most of the studies did not distinguish
between those who lost and regained weight through
dieting from those whose change in weight may have
been due to other reasons, such as unsuspected
illness or stress. In addition, most of the people
followed in these studies were not obese. In fact,
some evidence shows that if weight cycling does have
any negative effects on health, they are seen mostly
in people of low or normal weight. Some studies have
looked at the relationship between weight cycling and
risk factors for illness, such as high blood pressure,
high blood cholesterol, or high blood sugar. Most of
these studies have not found an association between
weight cycling and harmful changes in risk factors.
Is Remaining Overweight Healthier Than Weight
At this time, no conclusive studies have shown that
weight cycling is harmful to the health of an obese
person. On the other hand, the health risks of obesity
are well known. The costs of obesity-related illnesses
are more than $39 billion each year. Obesity is linked
to serious medical conditions such as: High blood
pressure, Heart disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Certain
types of cancer , Gout, and Gallbladder disease. Not
everyone who is obese has the same risk for these
conditions--a person's sex, amount of fat, location of
fat, and family history of disease all play a role in
determining an individual's risk of obesity-related
problems. However, experts agree that even a modest
weight loss can improve the health of an obese
Further research on the effects of weight cycling is
needed. In the meantime, if you are obese, don't let
fear of weight cycling stop you from achieving a
modest weight loss. Although health problems
associated with weight cycling have not been proven,
the health-related problems of obesity are well known.
Preventing Weight Gain
If you are not obese and have no risk factors for
obesity-related illness, focus on preventing further
weight gain by increasing your exercise and eating
healthy foods, rather than trying to lose weight. If you
do need to lose weight, you should be ready to
commit to lifelong changes in your eating behaviors,
diet, and physical activity.
Provided by National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases