Yo-yo diets increase risk of cardiovascular death after menopause

Category: Cardiovascular

Being overweight is, as many studies have shown, very dangerous to health. In addition to different types of cancer, overweight and obesity is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In the case of women who have passed the menopause and who, therefore, have lost the protection conferred by estrogens to the pathologies of the circulatory system. Hence the importance of going on a diet to control weight. But beware, it is useless to lose weight if it is to be recovered, which happens again and again with the so-called “yo-yo diets”, in which a continuous “rebound effect” occurs over several years. In fact, as a study by researchers at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket shows, this alternation in weight carries a very high risk of dying from a cardiovascular cause.

As explained by Somwail Rasla, director of this research presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2016 in New Orleans, “alternation in weight is a problem Of emerging global health associated with attempts to reduce weight, but the results of studies on health risks associated with this alternation have not been consistent”.

To carry out the study, the authors analyzed for 11.4 years the variations in the body mass index (BMI) of 158,063 women who had already passed the menopause, including the participants in four groups according to the evolution of their Body weight: women who maintained a stable weight during the study, women who gained weight steadily, women who maintained the loss of their BMI, and women who alternated gains and losses of weight.

The results showed that participants with a normal weight at the beginning of the study alternated increases and reductions in their BMI were at up to 3.5 times greater risk of experiencing a sudden death episode than those who maintained a stable weight. Weight changes in women who did not become overweight during 11.4 years of follow-up were also associated with a 66% increase in the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease.

However, there was no increase in the likelihood of dying from ischemic heart disease or an episode of sudden death among those women who experienced a progressive increase or reduction of their body weight. An absence of increased risk of mortality, which was surprisingly also observed in those participants with a high BMI – or, in other words, overweight or obesity – who experienced a change in weight.

And at this point, what happens to those women who have not yet passed the menopause? That is, should it be expected that this alternation in gain/loss of weight also entails an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality? And in the case of males? Well the truth is that nobody knows that. And as the authors acknowledge, their our work was carried out only with postmenopausal women. In addition, the weight evolution was based on the information provided by the participants, so it may be inaccurate. Further studies are needed to establish any clinical recommendations on the risks of alternation in weight, as our results are only applicable to postmenopausal women and not to younger women or men.