Most people who have struggled with their weight for a long time are familiar with the term “yoyo dieting.” It describes short-lived weight loss followed by a rapid regain of lost weight in a cycle that repeats. Because a long-term weight loss solution is difficult to find, people may repeat the yoyo dieting cycle for many years.
A recent study indicates that the consequences of the weight loss and weight regain cycle go further than the frustration and demoralization experienced by yoyo dieters. Researchers in Sweden encouraged a group of normal weight individuals to decrease their activity and increase their calorie intake over a one month period. On average, the group of 12 men and six women gained 14 pounds and their fat mass increased from 20% to 24%.
After returning to their normal lifestyle, the group lost most of the weight over 6 months but after one year the fat mass of the group remained elevated by an average of 3 pounds.
The fat mass gains continued to increase, and two and a half years after the original weight gain, the average was almost 7 pounds. A comparison group that did not experience the rapid weight gain did not demonstrate this increase in fat mass.
The researchers believe that rapid increases in weight changed body fat composition and boosted body fat levels. Despite losing the weight and establishing healthy activity, the changes endured for a long period.