Many people struggle with yo-yo dieting, and a new study says those weight fluctuations could be bad for your heart – even if your measurements improve.
Published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, a new paper concludes that fluctuations in your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar are linked to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and early death.
Compared to people with stable measurements, those with dramatically fluctuating numbers were:
- 127 percent more likely to have died in the study period
- 43 percent more likely to have had a heart attack
- 41 percent more likely to have had a stroke
For the study, researchers looked at data on more than 6 million people who had no history of heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. They documented participants’ body weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in three separate health exams, which took place every two years between 2005 to 2012.
Then, researchers looked at data collected in 2015, and found that people whose weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar changed by more than five percent — in other words, people whose measurements fluctuated — were more likely to die early or suffer a heart attack or stroke. Surprisingly, researchers found that this was true no matter which direction people’s numbers fluctuated.
Of course, this does not mean that yo-yo dieting can cause heart attacks — only that researchers observed a correlation between fluctuating metabolic measurements and the aforementioned health problems. However, researchers believe doctors should put more emphasis on maintaining stable measurements.
“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. Trying to stabilize these measurements may be an important step in helping them improve their health,” study co-author Dr. Seung-Hwan Lee, professor of endocrinology at the College of Medicine of the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, said in a statement.