New information suggests that people who follow yo-yo diets or have food insecurities may have a higher risk of heart disease. Studies conducted are now offering potential insights into the long-term impact of food habits.
One study presented at the American Physiological Society annual meeting set out to find the impact of weight-loss diets and involuntary reductions in food intake caused by food insecurities. This is the first of its kind to focus on long-term implications.
For the study, 16 rats were divided into two groups. One group received an average amount of food, while the other group experienced three cycles of a restricted diet. At the end of the study, an ultrasound was used to assess the rats’ cardiac and renal functioning, and blood tests were done to determine insulin sensitivity.
Study contributor Aline M. A. de Souza said, “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. Even though the animals look to be healthy after ‘recovery’ from the diet, their heart and metabolism are not healthy.”
More research is needed to determine the biological mechanisms behind the findings and discover if the heart disease risk patterns found in rats are the same as in people. Researchers believe that changes in gene expression in response to caloric restrictions may change biological pathways that regulate blood pressure and insulin metabolism, a measure of how the body processes sugar.
It is vital that those who use yo-yo diets or who have food insecurities know about the risk of cardiovascular problems. Having the knowledge of a heightened risk could help many get testing done to catch a heart problem in the early stages.
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