Yo-yo dieting, a CVD risk factor?

More evidence that making smarter eating just routine is better for health – research from Perdue University in Indiana has found that risk factors for cardiovascular disease closely track changes in eating patterns. This also suggests our weight isn’t the only thing that can fluctuate as the winter holiday season approaches.

To assess how diet fluctuations affected risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, the researchers looked to two previous studies where participants adopted either a healthier DASH-style eating pattern (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) or a Mediterranean-style eating pattern. Participants adopted one of the healthy eating patterns for five or six weeks and then had their risk factors measured. The study participants then returned to their normal eating patterns for four weeks before being checked again. Then after another five or six weeks on their healthy eating pattern, participants had their risk factors assessed one last time.

The results looked like a cardiovascular roller coaster. Yet what was encouraging was how fast the participants’ health started to improve after adopting a healthier diet, with it only taking a few weeks of healthy eating to generate lower blood pressure and cholesterol. So, while positive change can be swift, settling on a healthier eating routine you can stick to is vital for sustainable long-term benefits. This is important because the long-term effects of adopting and abandoning healthy eating patterns on cardiovascular disease are unknown. Research on weight cycling suggests that when serial dieters who are overweight repeatedly attempt to lose weight, quit, and try again, this may be more damaging to their long-term health than if they maintain a steady weight. More studies are needed to evaluate whether the long-term health effects of cycling between eating patterns raise similar concerns.

Make eating real food Just Routine

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