Diet programs | Disease risk depends on keeping it off


Diet programs can increase your disease risk, if you don't keep the weight off. Image: Flickr/ brymo / CC-BY-SA

It’s one of the most often-touted reasons to lose weight – it reduces your risk of disease. Diet programs claim that reduced disease risk is a big reason to spend thousands, if not millions, on weight loss. Reducing disease risk, though, depends on more than just losing weight.

Diet programs and disease risk

It’s a well-known fact that losing weight helps you be healthier. Losing weight reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and even cancer. Diet programs are often touted as a way to lose weight and reduce this risk. However, the problem is that most people who taken on diet programs end up putting the weight back on. In the Journal of Obesity, almost all people who followed a diet program lost at least some weight — and then put it back on within a few years.

The effects of yo-yo dieting

The tendency that most people have to re-gain weight after losing it on diet programs is known as yo-yo dieting. Individuals who have been on multiple diet programs tend to re-gain more weight than they initially lost, meaning that they are at a higher risk of the diseases that they were trying to prevent. In other words, diet programs could actually increase disease risk. With more than 73 percent of Americans classified as overweight or obese, that means the nation as a whole could be facing even higher risk of health problems.

Diet programs that decrease disease risk

The only weight loss diet program that has any success in keeping weight off is not a “diet program.” Instead, full-stop lifestyle changes — from diet to exercise to work environment — show the most success. Encouraging lifestyle changes takes a systematic approach, but it can be difficult, at best, to make happen. Some diet programs can actually increase disease risk by cutting out helpful nutrients or encouraging unhealthy eating — so lifestyle changes are the only healthy way to go.


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