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Think twice before going on a diet: Study explains why health news


A new qualitative study focuses on negative interpersonal and psychological reactions to ‘yo-yo dieting’ or weight cycling. This work emphasizes the dangers of yo-yo dieting and how difficult it is for people to break out of this pattern. “Yo-yo dieting—dieting to gain and lose weight unintentionally only to gain it back and start the cycle again—is a prevalent part of American culture, in which fad diets and quick weight loss plans or drugs are normalized because people following ideals of beauty . . .,” said Lynsey Romo, author of a paper on the study and associate professor of communication at North Carolina State University.

“Based on what we learned through this study, as well as existing research, we recommend that most people avoid dieting unless it is medically necessary. Our research shows how people can combat the imagined aspects of weight cycling and challenge the cycle. Pare also gives his insight.”

For the study, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 36 adults — 13 men and 23 women — who had experienced weight cycling in which they lost and regained more than 11 pounds. The goal was to learn more about why and how people entered the yo-yo dieting cycle and how they were able to break out of it.

Also read: Weight loss: How to stick to your fitness goals in 2024 – 5 tips

All study participants reported wanting to lose weight because of social stigma related to their weight and/or they were comparing their weight to celebrities or peers. “Furthermore, the participants did not start the diet for health reasons, but because they felt social pressure to lose weight,” Romo said.

Study participants also reported engaging in a variety of weight-loss strategies, resulting in initial weight loss, but eventually regaining it.
Regaining weight makes people feel shame and further internalize the stigma associated with weight – study participants feel worse about themselves before they start dieting. This, in turn, often leads people to engage in increasingly extreme behaviors to try to lose weight again.

“For example, many participants engaged in disordered weight management behaviors, such as binge or emotional eating, restricting food and calories, remembering calorie counts, stressing about what they were eating and the number on the scale, falling back on quick fixes (such as low-carb diets or diet drugs). (eg), getting extra exercise and skipping social events with meals to shed pounds faster,” says Romo. “Inevitably, these eating behaviors become unsustainable, and participants gain weight back, often more than they initially lost.”

“Almost all of the study participants were obsessed with their weight,” said Katelyn Mueller, a graduate student at NC State and co-author of the study. “Weight loss became a focal point in their lives, to the point that it distracted them from spending time with friends, family, and colleagues and from reducing temptations to gain weight, such as drinking and overeating. Participants referred to the experience as an addiction or an addiction. Vicious cycle,” Romo said. “People who were able to understand and deal with their toxic dieting behaviors were more successful in breaking the cycle. Strategies people used to combat these toxic behaviors included focusing on their health rather than the number on the scale, as well as exercising for fun. Than count the number of calories they burn.

“Participants who were more successful in challenging the cycle were able to adopt healthy eating behaviors—such as eating a varied diet and eating when they were hungry—rather than treating eating as something that needs to be closely monitored, controlled, or punished. .” However, the researchers found that most of the study participants remained stuck in the cycle. “The combination of constructed thought patterns, societal expectations, toxic food culture and widespread weight stigma make it difficult for people to fully exit the cycle, even when they want to,” Romo says. “Ultimately, this study tells us that weight cycling is a negative exercise that can do real harm to people,” Romo said. “Our findings suggest that dieting can be harmful to people when it is not medically necessary. Dieting to meet some perceived social standard unwittingly exposes participants to years of shame, body dissatisfaction, illness, stress, social comparison, and weight-related preoccupation. Once dieting Once started, it is very difficult for many people to avoid a lifelong struggle with their weight.”