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Obes Res. 1993 Sep;1(5):392-402.

Weight cycling: a review of the animal literature.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37232-2637, USA.


This review critically evaluates the animal literature concerning the effects of weight cycling on factors related to development of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Although human studies have been used to retrospectively examine the relationship between fluctuations in body weight and a variety of disease markers, direct causal links between weight cycling and negative health effects have been inferred from a series of scientific publications using animals as subjects. We use data from 24 such publications to evaluate evidence for and against a series of hypotheses that have been suggested regarding weight cycling and health. Although there are some intriguing results, there is currently little evidence to support any of these hypotheses. However, methodological limitations were identified in many of these studies, and caution should be used in making definitive decisions about weight cycling. Weight cycling studies could be improved by including more appropriate controls, comparing controls to weight cycling animals at more appropriate time points, and giving more attention to potential effects of diet composition. While more careful research is needed, at this time we conclude that the published animal literature does not justify any warnings about the hazards of weight cycling.

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