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  YourHealth > Women  << Previous|Next >>

Women on 'yo-yo' diets at risk of stroke

     Women who "binge diet" increase their risk of heart attack and stroke because gaining and losing weight gives them lower levels of "good" cholesterol compared with those who eat sensibly.

A study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Nov '00), shows that women who binge diet to lose at least 10lbs quickly just three times in their lives (known as "Weight Cycling) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

"These findings may have a great significance because 40 per cent of adult women report attempts to lose weight, and many will gain it back," said Marian Olson, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, who led the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation study.

The findings showed that the poorer levels of good cholesterol, known as high density lipoprotein (HDL) were also present in thin women who binge dieted.

"While obese 'weight cyclers' tended to have the lowest high cholesterol levels among all weight cyclers in the study, even thinner women who repeatedly gain and lose weight showed lower HDL levels than those who maintain their weight," Ms Olson said. Low HDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Further research on the effects of weight cycling is needed. In the meantime, if you are obese, don't let fear of weight cycling stop you from achieving a modest weight loss. Although health problems associated with weight cycling have not been proven, the health-related problems of obesity are well known. If you do need to lose weight, you should be ready to commit to lifelong changes in your eating behaviors, diet, and physical activity.

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