Experts Sound Alarm On Dangers Of Yo-Yo Dieting

Is it possible that dieting might harm your health?

The effects on the mental and physical health of the classic “yo-yo dieting” pattern—constantly cutting calories and then regaining them months later—are concerning.

A recent study published in the Qualitative Health Research journal delves into the reasons behind yo-yo dieting and why some individuals can break free. The researchers from North Carolina State University employed in-depth interviews to gather the data.

A total of 36 adults, including 13 males and 23 females, who had gone through weight cycling (losing and gaining more than 11 pounds) were examined in the study. Many participants said they tried different approaches to losing weight but only had temporary success. Every participant expressed the desire to shed pounds due to peer pressure, societal pressure, or the fear of being judged by others.

People felt much worse about themselves after regaining weight than they did before they lost it due to feelings of shame and internalization of societal stigma. The individuals’ subsequent engagement in even more severe diets intensified the cycle.

Rather than viewing food as something to be controlled, watched, or punished, the individuals who could adopt healthy eating habits—such as eating a diverse diet and eating when hungry—were the most effective in breaking the pattern.

The majority of subjects, however, were unable to break the cycle fully, according to the study.

Many individuals acknowledged engaging in disordered behaviors related to weight management, including emotional or binge eating, calorie restriction, memorization of calorie counts, and excessive worry about food and weight.

They overexercised, avoided social gatherings where food might be present, and turned to short solutions like low-carb diets or diet pills.

Due to the “unsustainable” nature of the diets and behaviors that the individuals adopted to lose weight, the majority of the weight that they lost was quickly put back on.

Adding insult to injury, many reported feeling even worse about themselves after dieting due to feelings of shame and guilt at having gained the weight back.

The fact that participants referred to the experience as an addiction or a vicious cycle was another cause for concern.

These folks let the need to lose weight consume them to the point that they avoided or severely limited their social interactions to curb the temptation to cheat on their diets.