Whether you call it 'yo-yo dieting' or 'weight cycling', the repetitive loss and regain of body weight is generally thought to thwart women's chances of losing weight.
Not only do experts agree that yo-yo dieters tend to regain any weight they lose as soon as they resume sensible eating habits, it's also been suggested that weight cycling could damage your metabolism, making it less efficient.
However, a new study by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published online in the journal Metabolism, appears to show that a history of yo-yo dieting does not negatively affect metabolism or the ability to lose weight long term.
"A history of unsuccessful weight loss should not dissuade an individual from future attempts to shed pounds or diminish the role of a healthy diet and regular physical activity in successful weight management," said the study's senior author Anne McTiernan, in a statement.
According to NHS figures, nearly a quarter of adults in England are obese, while just under a third of women, 32% and 42% of men are overweight. In American, two-thirds of the US population is currently overweight or obese.
Obesity is a known risk factor for many cancers as well as heart disease and diabetes.
A relationship between body fat and the production of certain hormones and inflammatory markers is thought to contribute to increased cancer risk.
Dessert For Breakfast
It sounds too good to be true, but a group of scientists reckon they've figured out how to prevent weight-gain and food cravings - and it involves adding a cookie or a slice of cake to your breakfast. Researchers from Tel Aviv University's Wolfson Medical Center in Israel believe that dieters would have less trouble fighting off pesky hunger pangs throughout the day if they ate a carbohydrate-rich, protein-packed breakfast - with a helping of dessert. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/26/health-dessert-breakfast-weight-loss-food-craving_n_1626701.html" target="_hplink">Read more here.</a>
'Time' To Diet?
Weight may depend as much on when you eat as what, research suggests. The body clock's effect on metabolism could be an overlooked factor driving obesity, say scientists. New evidence from studies of mice suggests that 24-hour snacking, especially at night, can pile on the pounds. Restricting eating to sensible meal times, on the other hand, may help fight the flab - even with big helpings. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/05/17/health-weight-depends-on-what-time-you-eat_n_1524195.html" target="_hplink">Read more here. </a>
Japanese inventors have designed a hi-tech (and slightly bonkers) device that claims to help people lose weight - and it involves a pair of 'slimming spectacles' that trick the brain into thinking that food is 50% bigger than it really is. The 'Meta Cookie+' gadget has been developed by a team of researchers from Tokyo University, Japan and was showcased at Tokyo's Digital Content Expo. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/19/japan-dieting-craze-metacookie-slimming-glasses_n_1437782.html" target="_hplink">Read more here.</a>
Nose Drip Diet
An American doctor has sparked a potentially dangerous diet trend by creating a drastic, quick fix weight-loss programme that involves the dieter feeding through a nose drip. The 'K-E Diet' (or the Ketogenic Enteral Nutrition diet), created by Florida-based Dr Oliver Di Pietro, promises to shed 20lbs in just 10 days and has so far proved popular with brides-to-be wanting to shift weight leading up to their wedding. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/04/17/k-e-diet-worrying-trend-weight-loss-nose-drip_n_1431618.html" target="_hplink">Read more here.</a>
Cold Baths, No Breakfast and Coffee
According to the author of Six Weeks To OMG: Get Skinnier Than All Your Friends skipping breakfast, drinking coffee and taking cold baths - really help you get thin. Venice A Fulton is well prepared to challenge his critics and says that many health professionals are already on his side. "I've already had doctors say they find it refreshing and useful for them," Fulton told <em>Huffpost Lifestyle</em>. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/05/health-six-weeks-to-omg-diet-really-works_n_1650323.html?utm_hp_ref=uk-lifestyle" target="_hplink">Read more here.</a>
"We know there's an association between obesity, sedentary behavior and increased risk of certain cancers," McTiernan said.
"The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter to a third of cancers could be prevented with maintenance of normal weight and keeping a physically active lifestyle."
The study was based on data from 439 overweight-to-obese, sedentary Seattle-area women, ages 50 to 75, who were randomly assigned to one of four groups: reduced-calorie diet only, exercise only (mainly brisk walking), reduced-calorie diet plus exercise and a control group that received no intervention.
At the end of the year-long study, participants on the diet-only and diet-plus-exercise arms lost an average of 10% of their starting weight, which was the goal of the intervention.
The analysis aimed to determine whether women with a history of moderate or severe weight cycling were at a disadvantage compared to non-weight-cyclers when it came to losing weight.
Of the study participants overall, 18% (77 women) met the criteria for severe weight cycling (having reported losing 20 or more pounds on three or more occasions) and 24% (103 women) met the criteria for moderate weight cycling (having reported losing 10 or more pounds on three or more occasions).
Although severe weight cyclers were, on average, nearly 20 pounds heavier than non-cyclers at the start of the study, at the end of the study the researchers found no significant differences between those who yo-yo dieted and those who didn't with regard to the ability to successfully participate in diet and/or exercise programs.
The cyclers also did not differ from the non-cyclers with regard to the impact of diet or diet-plus-exercise on weight loss, percentage of body fat and lean muscle mass gained or lost
Other physiological factors such as blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and blood concentrations of hormones such as leptin (which helps make one feel full) and adiponectin (which helps regulate glucose levels) also did not differ significantly among those whose weight fluctuated and those whose did not.
"To our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the effect of prior weight cycling on the body composition, metabolic and hormonal changes induced by a comprehensive lifestyle intervention in free-living women," the authors wrote.