Women who repeatedly gain and lose weight, especially if they are obese, have significantly lower levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol than do women who maintain their weight, putting the weight cyclers at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
These findings were published this month by American researchers from four institutions conducting the Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (W.I.S.E.) study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
While obese weight cyclers tended to have the lowest HDL 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. Low HDL cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.
In this study, which involved 485 women, weight cycling was defined as intentionally losing at least 10 pounds at least three times during one's life.
Compared with women who maintained their weight, cyclers had higher BMI, exercised more and had a greater physical capacity for performing everyday activities. The two groups did not differ in cardiac risk factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar or waist-to-hip ratio, or in menopausal status, or prevalence of diabetes or coronary artery disease.
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