Prof. Marwan El Ghoch
Obesity is a serious health problem, associated with several medical and psychosocial comorbidities. The international guidelines recommend a wide range of weight-loss interventions, however most of these are effective only in the short-term. Mostly around 80% of patients with obesity who have intentionally lost weight return to their baseline weight within three years of follow-up.
This phenomenon, termed as “weight cycling” or “Yo-Yo dieting”, has been studied in the last three decades for its potential adverse effects on health. However, such research has produced inconsistent finding, and the effects of weight cycling on the health of patients with obesity still remain to be explored before drawing any firm conclusion. However and despite these uncertainties, there is a wide and common belief among the general population including some clinicians that weight cycling has negative effects on health.
For this purpose we aimed to investigate the effect of one cycle (i.e. intentional weight loss followed by spontaneous weight regain) on energy expenditure, body composition patterns, cardiovascular risk factors and psychosocial variables in adult patients with severe obesity.
Surprisingly we found no detectable longitudinal association between weight cycling and adverse effects on the latter variables. Here stems the clinical implication of our finding, where the absence of any negative physical and psychological health effects of weight cycling finally provides a conclusive, evidence-based answer to the question:
“Is weight cycling in obesity really a health risk factor?”
Based on our results the answer is “NO” and this hopefully will leave no room for misleading information regarding the adverse effects of weight cycling on health in patients with obesity that in the past led some clinicians to encourage patients to limit weight-loss attempts.
We concluded that the risk of weight regain should not be a barrier to encouraging weight loss efforts in patients with severe obesity, but on the contrary, this finding should encourage clinicians to motivate patients with severe obesity to persevere with weight loss efforts, even though the risk of weight regain is high.
Villa Garda Hospital