Weight cycling is associated with body weight excess and abdominal fat accumulation: a cross-sectional study

Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;30(6):718-23. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Background & aims: To investigate the association between history of multiple weight loss diets followed by weight regain, namely weight cycling (WCy), and both body weight excess and abdominal fat accumulation.

Methods: A one-day cross-sectional survey ("Obesity-Day") including 914 participants (605F:309M). Anthropometric variables (body mass index [BMI], waist circumference [WC] and waist-to-height ratio [WtHR]), covariates and WCy (≥ 5 intentional weight loss episodes of ≥ 5 kg followed by rapid return to pre-diet or higher body weight) were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire, interview and physical examination.

Results: Data on central fat accumulation (by WC and WtHR) were available in a representative sub-group (n = 600). WCy was reported by 119 participants (13.0%) of total population and by 79 (13.2%) of those with available data on central fat accumulation. At multivariable linear regressions WCy was independently associated with higher BMI (P = .004), WC (P = .011) and WtHR (P = .008). Sensitivity analyses, performed after excluding those being on a diet at the time of assessment, confirmed these findings.

Conclusions: A history of WCy appears related to body weight excess and abdominal fat accumulation. These findings support the importance of designing adequate weight loss programs to achieve long-term weight maintenance and to prevent undesirable and unhealthy weight accumulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / physiology*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Waist Circumference
  • Weight Gain / physiology*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • Weight Reduction Programs*