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Yo-Yo Dieting After Menopause Could Pose Heart Health Risk To Some Women, Study Claims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Are you a 'yo-yo' dieter who loses weight, gains it back, loses it, and then gains it back all over again?

The practice can slow your metabolism and make it increasingly harder to lose weight.

Worse yet -- as CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez explained, a new study said it could kill you.

Obesity is bad for your health, so we try to lose weight. But if you do that through crash diets and yo-yo up and down you may not be doing yourself any health favors.

Turns out for normal weight women, after menopause that could be very bad for the heart.

Diets and dieting have been around for centuries even before doctors realized the health risks behind carrying around too many pounds.

Weight loss is a huge industry -- diet books are perennial best sellers, touting everything from grapefruit to liquid protein to green coffee bean extract.

"I maintained a high protein diet, I worked out every day, and nothing has changed. I'm up 2 lbs, I'm down 2 lbs, up 2 lbs, down 4 lbs. It's like a seesaw," Christine Momole said.

It seems that yo-yo cycle of weight loss and gain over and over again could be very risky, especially if it's more than Momole's 2 to 4 lbs.

"Yo-yo diets, if you lose or gain 10 lbs, we saw an increase in heart disease and sudden cardiac death," Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, Lenox Hill Hospital said.

In fact, the risk of sudden cardiac death was three-and-a-half times more for yo-yo dieters.

The study analyzed surveys of more than 150,000 women over more than 11 years, looking at their self-reported weight histories.

"We see an increase in risk factors, blood pressure, cholesterol, sugars, and what happens is when they lose weight those numbers never come back to normal, increasing the risk for heart disease," Dr. Steinbaum said.

The odd part of the story was that the increased risk was only found in post-menopausal women who were normal weight.

The theory is that 10 lbs up and down is not as significant for women who are already overweight or obese.

"They're more likely to have these risk factors to start with so the fluctuation is not really so significant," Dr. Steinbaum said.

You have to know your heart risk numbers, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar -- in order to know what's really going on inside.



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