Yo-yo dieters were given new hope Tuesday after U.S. researchers said that losing and gaining weight was better for heavy people than not shedding any excess fat at all.
Previous research suggested that constantly dropping and regaining weight could be harmful to health, but scientists from Ohio University found that a fluctuating body mass was better than remaining obese.
Mice placed on alternating high-fat and low-fat diets lived 25 percent longer than those kept on a high-fat diet, the research team announced at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston.
The mice who constantly switched their diets also had better blood glucose levels and a reduction in levels of cytokines -- damaging protein molecules linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Yo-yo mice lived an average of 2.04 years, the obese mice 1.5 years and the group on a low-fat diet for 2.09 years, according to the study.
"The new research shows that the simple act of gaining and losing weight does not seem detrimental to life span," lead author Edward List said. "The study adds to our understanding of the benefit of losing weight. I would hope that this encourages people to not give up."