One in every three Americans is obese. While proper nutrition is a crucial part of preventing the advancement of this epidemic, some people may be doing more harm than good by falling victim to what is known as “yo-yo dieting.”
Yo-yo dieting is the repeated loss and gain of weight, the physical effects of which have long been scrutinized. Earlier this year, CNN Health discussed how yo-yo diets can lead to cardiovascular conditions, and WomenFitness.net has listed the outcomes of yo-yo dieting to include a weakened immune system, weight gain and psychological problems. Recent studies at the University of Pennsylvania have shed light on yet another possible effect of yo-yo dieting, focusing on how it may influence how the brain responds to stress.
Dr. Tracy Bale, PhD, and a team of researchers observed the activity of mice living on restricted diets. After three weeks of consuming fewer calories, the mice lost 10 to 15 percent of their body weight, experienced an increase in levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and showed “depression-like behavior.” Moreover, when placed in high-stress situations, the mice that had been on limited diets were more likely to consume fattier foods than the other mice, demonstrating a possible link between yo-yo diets and stress- and eating-related genes.
According to Bale, “These results suggest that [Yo-yo] dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but it may actually ‘reprogram’ how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food.” Thus, the weight cycling caused by yo-yo dieting may lead to problems that outweigh the benefits of temporarily dropping a few pounds.
Blog source: Market America Blog via CNN Health