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Researchers say switching between healthy and unhealthy foods increases the risk of diabetes


Switching back-and-forth between calorie restrictive and normal diets may be more harmful for a person’s health than never adopting a healthy diet, a new study finds.

Researchers at Georgetown University, in Washington D.C., found that an unstable, changing, diet can cause long term harm to a person and even put them at an increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

‘Yo-yo’ dieting has become common among some Americans who constantly make attempts to eat healthier in efforts to lose weight and improve their health – but fail to do so consistently.

This study introduces worrying findings, though, and make it seem that just maintaining an unhealthy diet could be preferable to repeated failed tries to be healthy.

Constant change between a low-calorie and high-calorie diet can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, a new study of rats finds

Constant change between a low-calorie and high-calorie diet can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, a new study of rats finds

Researchers, who presented their findings at the American Physiological Society annual meeting this year, gathered data from 16 rats for the study.

The rodents where split in half, with the first group being fed a normal diet. A second group were given a restricted diet with 60 percent of their usual calorie intake for three weeks, followed by three weeks of a regular diet. This cycle was repeated three times.

The rats were then screened for cardiac and renal functioning. Their blood was also tested to gauge insulin resistance.

Rats that were fed the ‘yo-yo’ diet were found to be suffering from worse heart and kidney functioning, among issues with managing blood sugar.

‘We found that animals going through several cycles of weight loss and body weight recovery had reduced heart and kidney function at the end. They also had more insulin resistance, which can be a cause for diabetes,’ Dr Aline de Souza, an author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown, said.

‘Even though the animals look to be healthy after ‘recovery’ from the diet, their heart and metabolism are not healthy.’ 

While the research is still in its early stages, researchers fear that many Americans that are constantly changing their caloric intake – whether out of health concerns or need – could be harming themselves.

A 2014 study among black women in the U.S., the demographic most-likely to suffer from weight related issues, found that 63 percent took part in ‘weight cycling’ – constantly gaining and losing weight.

Past research has also found potential negative effects of the dietary pattern. WebMD warns that it can cause inflammation, increased stress and can increase the proportion of fat in a person’s body.

A large portion of Americans are suffering from one of either obesity, diabetes or being overweight, according to official CDC data

A large portion of Americans are suffering from one of either obesity, diabetes or being overweight, according to official CDC data

‘Our data supports the need for additional research in people to find out if individuals who do cycles of very restrictive diets to lose weight are at higher risk of developing heart problems later in life,’ de Souza said. 

‘We still need to do more studies in this field but the findings suggest the more restrictive the diet is, the worse the health outcomes may be. 

‘Weight loss diets need careful consideration of long-term health, especially if rapid weight loss is being contemplated as an option.’ 

Researchers also fear that the spate of food insecurity around the world fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic may have forced some into low-calorie diets out of necessity.

As these people return to previous life, there are fears that the yo-yo may cause permanent damage to some of their body processes.

Issues with weight have become a consistent part of many American’s lives, as officials warn the nation is suffering from an obesity crisis.

Official data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that 70 percent of Americans are overweight, and nearly half are obese.

Diabetes and heart disease are major issues in America, with 16 percent of Americans suffering from the former and the latter being the country’s leading cause of death. 

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