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Why Dieting Can Be Dangerous

Dieting
October 14, 2021

Dieting & Weight Cycling can be dangerous

Weight cycling describes the continual bouncing and fluctuation of weight over periods of time in repeated attempts to intentionally lose weight. You can think of it as…. Lose weight, gain weight, lose weight, gain weight, lose weight, gain weight etc. We see a lot of people where frequent weight fluctuations in attempts to lose weight is common. But what is the constant bouncing around of weight actually doing to us?

Weight cycling is associated with a shorter lifespan, and has been shown to increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. In fact, the research shows that it is possible that the association between weight and health risk can be better attributed to weight cycling than body size! We now have access to research (and experiences) that showcase that it is the engagement of health enhancing BEHAVIOURS that contribute to better health outcomes, rather than the achievement of a particular body, weight, shape or size. And that IRRESPECTIVE of a body, weight, shape or size, a focus on health-enhancing behaviours is possibly healthier long-term than living inside a body that constantly weight cycles in the continual, exhausting effort to get a body smaller, and neglects healthy behaviours to get there.

Our attempts to intentionally lose weight are largely driven by diet cultures strong messaging that a small body equals a healthy body (which is largely incorrect), but forgets the notion that we all come in different shapes and sizes and our genetics also significantly affects our body size (to which, we have not as much control over as we are led to believe).

Weight stigma is harmful

Internalised negative attitudes about weight, known as weight stigma, is another mediator between body size and health. Studies show that weight stigma increases the risk of high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol, and eating disorders. This means that placing the focus of medical care on weight management is harmful and has the opposite of its intended effect on health. You can read more on how and why weight stigma drives the ‘obesity’ epidemic and harms health here, and evidence for adopting weight inclusive health policy here.

Dieting leads to eating disorders

Dieting is one of the strongest predictor factors for the development of an eating disorder. Prescribing diets often equates to prescribing disordered eating behaviours. Dieting can lead to severe restrictive eating and malnutrition, cycles of starvation and binge eating, as well as other eating disorder behaviours and their medical complications.

Weight loss pills and surgeries carry significant risks

Weight loss medications may lead to short term weight loss, but cause weight cycling in the long run, along with other potential side effects. Weight loss surgeries carry a significant risk of many complications, including death. The research shows that there are more effective ways to positively impact health that do not risk lifelong side-effects.


WRITTEN BY MONIQUE JEPHCOTE

Accredited Practising Dietitian + Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor

Book an Appointment with Us

WRITTEN BY MONIQUE JEPHCOTE

Accredited Practising Dietitian + Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor

Book an Appointment with Us