Diets and the yo-yo effect that often follows not only have a negative impact on the psyche, they often also create a lifelong vicious circle of losing and gaining weight. Therefore, most people should avoid dieting.
A new study by experts at North Carolina State University examined how so-called weight cycling, also known as the yo-yo effect, has long-term effects on those affected. The results have been published in the specialist journal “Qualitative Health Research”.
Was ist Weight cycling?
The team conducted an in-depth survey of 36 people (13 men and 23 women), all of whom had problems with weight cycling. Although those affected manage to lose weight in the short term through diets, they gain weight again after the diet. The process is also known as the yo-yo effect.
What was the motivation for losing weight?
In the study, all respondents said they wanted to lose weight due to the stigmatization of their weight in society. “For the most part, the participants did not start the diet for health reasons, but because they felt social pressure to lose weight,” explains Professor Lynsey Romo.
Diets are harmful to your well-being
The participants used various weight loss methods, all of which initially resulted in weight loss. However, this was followed by renewed weight gain. This contributed to those affected developing feelings of shame and further internalizing the stigma surrounding their weight, the team reports.
After the diets and the subsequent weight gain, they felt worse than before the diet. This in turn often led to those affected resorting to ever more extreme behavior in order to lose weight again, the researchers explain.
Uncontrolled binge eating and emotional eating
Many participants showed disturbed weight control behavior, which included, for example, uncontrolled binge eating or emotional eating and memorizing calorie values.
In addition, those affected were more likely to resort to quick-acting measures such as a diet with limited carbohydrate intake or weight loss medications, according to the research team.
The participants also more often avoided social events where food was offered and exercised excessively in order to lose weight as quickly as possible, the experts report. However, this often resulted in the participants gaining more weight than they had lost on the previous diet.
Weight loss became a central point in the participants’ lives, explains study author Katelin Müller. This also prevented them from spending time with friends, family and colleagues as they wanted to avoid temptations to eat.
Vicious cycle of weight loss and gain
This created a vicious circle of weight loss and subsequent weight gain. However, participants who understood and responded to their toxic eating behavior had a better chance of breaking this vicious circle, the team reports.
For example, it can help to focus on health rather than the number on the scale, or to exercise for the joy of exercise rather than just counting the number of calories burned.
Participants who were more successful at overcoming this vicious circle were also better able to adopt healthy eating habits, the researchers emphasize. Unfortunately, the majority of participants were unable to do this.
It’s better to avoid diets
According to the experts, the results of the study show that it is difficult for many people to break the cycle of diets with the subsequent yo-yo effect.
“Based on the findings of this study and existing research, we recommend that most people avoid dieting unless medically necessary,” explains study author Professor Lynsey Romo in a press release.
Because weight loss with the subsequent yo-yo effect can cause serious damage and for many people, a lifelong vicious circle of weight loss and yo-yo effect begins after a diet. (as)