What Yo-Yo dieting does to your heart

When I was growing up, my mom was always on some type of diet — from the grapefruit diet and Cambridge shakes to Weight Watchers and the Zone — she would lose weight, just to gain it all back and do it again with a new program.

While she used to joke about the ups and downs in her weight and how she “just had to try out every type of diet out there,” she never thought it would affect more than her confidence, but that may not have been the case.

Now new research is linking that type yo-yo dieting to an increased risk of heart problems, and here’s why…

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The danger grows with each diet

A study that followed 485 women participating in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Strategically Focused Research Network at Columbia University in New York City provided some scary insight into what happens when we diet… and diet… and diet.

The women involved reported how many times (other than during pregnancies) they had lost at least 10 pounds, only to regain the weight within a year. The researchers then assessed them on American Heart Association’s – Life’s Simple 7, a measure of how well people control important heart disease risk factors (including body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, smoking, physical activity, and diet).

Here’s what they found…

Most of the women (73 percent) reported at least one episode of yo-yo weight loss. Some even reported losing the weight only to regain it at least 20 times!

And, they discovered that women with one or more episodes of yo-yo weight loss were:

  • 82 percent less likely to have an optimal body mass index
  • 51 percent less likely to be rated as moderate on Life’s Simple 7
  • 65 percent less likely to be rated as optimal overall on Life’s Simple 7

This means that women whose weight bounces up and down are significantly more likely to have a higher BMI, raising their risk of heart disease, and are far less likely to have all of the other heart disease risk factors, like cholesterol and blood pressure, under control. This leaves them in danger of a heart attack or stroke.

Related: 6 Simple weight loss hacks you’ve never heard of (slideshow)

The research also showed that the more episodes of weight cycling women reported, the poorer they scored on Life’s Simple 7 upping their chances of heart disease even further — a statistic that that was even worse in women who had never been pregnant.

According to the researchers, this shows that yo-yo dieting may make it harder for women to control a variety of heart disease risk factors, leaving them in danger. And, considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women across the world, this is a serious issue.

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Not just a risk for women

But, before you think that men are off the hook and can safely lose weight and then pack on the pounds without worrying about their hearts, think again.

Although this study looked specifically at women’s heart health and the effects of yo-yo dieting, prior research has shown that men who go through the same type of weight-cycling have twice the risk of death from heart-related conditions in middle age.

So, whether you’re a man or a woman, if you’ve been a yo-yo dieter, it’s important to realize the risks that those ups and downs in your weight could bring to your heart health.

To see how you stack up on Life’s Simple 7, go to My Life Check from the American Heart Association.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


  1. Yo-yo dieting may increase women’s heart disease risk — EurekAlert!
  2. How the myth that heart disease is a man’s problem hurts women — Can We Live Better? (Bayer)
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.