PITTSBURGH, Oct. 31 -- 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 in the November issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology by researchers from four institutions conducting the Womens Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (W.I.S.E.) study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
"These findings may have a great significance because 40 percent of adult women report attempts to lose weight, and many will gain it back," said Marian Olson, M.S., research associate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and first author of the paper. "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 cross-sectional study, weight cycling was defined as intentionally losing at least 10 pounds at least three times during ones life. The study involved 485 women who were undergoing coronary angiography to evaluate chest pains.
Of the 130 participants who reported a history of weight cycling, 19 percent cycled 10-19 pounds, six percent cycled 20-49 pounds and two percent cycled 50 pounds or more. Women of greater body mass index (BMI) tended to cycle more weight and to exhibit the lowest HDL levels. However, the effects of weight cycling on HDL levels were independent of other factors known to affect HDL levels, such as BMI, excess abdominal fat, smoking, lack of exercise, alcohol intake, hormone replacement therapy, diabetes and race.
Weight cyclers had an average of seven percent lower HDL levels (52 mg/dl) than did non-cyclers (56
Contact: Kathryn Duda
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center