Yo-yo dieting more than DOUBLES your risk of an early death

Yo-yo dieting more than DOUBLES your risk of an early death and ‘makes you more likely to have a heart attack or stroke’

  • Also raises a person’s blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Analysed more than six million otherwise healthy people over five years
  • Researchers urge doctors to be aware of how a patient’s weight fluctuates  
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Yo-yo dieting significantly increases your risk of an early grave, according to the results of the first study of its kind.

Researchers in South Korea tracked the weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar of millions of people.

They found repeated fluctuations in the four measures over a period of five years more than doubled the risk of an early death.

And the scientists also discovered yo-yo dieting, sometimes known as weight cycling, raised the odds of a heart attack and stroke. 

A host of celebrities have struggled with yo-yo dieting over the years, including Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera.

Christina Aguilera is among a host of celebrities have struggled with yo-yo dieting over the years (pictured left blowing a kiss as she arrived at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles February 11, 2007, pictured right at ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ in Los Angeles last month)

Catholic University of Korea researchers analysed the data of 6,748,773 healthy people from the Korean National Health Insurance system.

The participants did not have diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol at the start of the study and had never suffered a heart attack.

All of them were assessed at least three times between 2005 and 2012 for their weight, blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

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Five-and-a-half years after the study started, 54,785 of the participants had died, 22,498 had a stroke and 21,452 suffered a heart attack. 

Results suggest those whose weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar recordings fluctuated the most were 127 per cent more likely to die.

They were also 43 per cent more likely to have a heart attack and 41 per cent more at risk of a stroke, according to the study published in the journal Circulation. 


Following a ‘fashionable’ fast for just one week can damage the heart, research suggested in February 2018.

Obese people who suddenly lower their calorie intake to just 600-to-800 units a day, experience heart-fat level increases of 44 per cent, a trial found.

Despite such dieters on average losing six per cent of their total body fat after just seven days, this fat is released into their bloodstream and absorbed by their hearts, the researchers explained.

Although this excess heart fat balances out by week eight of dieting, for people with heart problems, it could leave them breathless and with an irregular beat, the Oxford University scientists added.  

The researchers analysed 21 obese volunteers with an average age of 52 and a BMI of 37kg/metre squared.

The study’s participants ate a very low-calorie diet every day for eight weeks.

MRI scans were taken at the start and end of the investigation, as well as after week one. 

‘Healthcare providers should pay attention to the variability in measurements of a patient’s blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels as well as body weight,’ senior author Dr Seung-Hwan Lee said.

‘Trying to stabilise these measurements may be an important step in helping them improve their health.’ 

The study found a correlation between having a fluctuating weight and poor health but did not prove a cause-and-effect.

It also did not investigate why the participants’ weights fluctuated.

‘It is not certain whether these results from Korea would apply to the US,’ Dr Lee added.

‘However, several previous studies on variability were performed in other populations, suggesting it is likely to be a common phenomenon.’ 

Yo-yo dieting has been linked to reduced muscle mass and greater weight gain, particularly around the abdomen.

This can cause fat to deposit around the internal organs, which increases a person’s risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  

Rodent trials have also suggested cycling between weight gain and weight loss causes fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver failure. 

It comes after a pathologist claimed the reason Pretty Woman singer Roy Orbison died was due to his obsession with yo-yo dieting.

The singer and songwriter died at the age of 52 following a heart attack while visiting his mother in Hendersonville, Tennessee. 

In a TV documentary, Dr Michael Hunter claimed the star’s ‘substantial weight gain followed by drastic weight loss’ would have placed ‘tremendous’ strain on his heart.

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