Attack of the Killer Diets

Attack of the Killer Diets

Why yo-yo dieting can be bad for your health.

Published May 2, 2011

Celebrities are constantly in the news for their weight and diet, and no one knows that better than Oprah Winfrey and, lately, Kirstie Alley. The former Cheers star has found herself in the spotlight yet again for her rapid weight transformation, which this time around she credits to Dancing With the Stars. While Alley’s achievement should be applauded, it makes you wonder about the effect that her fluctuating weight and yo-yo dieting are having on her health.


Alley has lost an estimated 60 pounds rehearsing for DWTS. But back in 2004 she lost 75 pounds, before regaining them, plus an extra eight, after her rein as spokesperson for Jenny Craig. At any weight a dramatic loss or gain can affect your health. A study of 485 women found that those that yo-yo dieted had significantly lower levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the "good" kind of cholesterol that helps lower your risk of heart disease. Women that lost and then gained at least 50 pounds had the biggest drop in HDL and were the most severely at risk.


Fluctuations in weight can really shake up your system, putting you at risk for gallstones, high blood pressure, heart attack, depression, stroke or infection. It can be tempting to lose focus once you stop dieting, but it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. The best way to do this is with healthy eating and regular exercise.


Here are a few tips to help you stabilize your weight:


Find alternative ways to soothe yourself than with food. Make a list of things that are comforting when you’re upset or stressed that don’t involve food. When you start to feel overwhelmed, review your list and pick out something to do for the next 10 minutes, or until the feeling passes.


Change your mindset. Think more about eating healthier instead of counting calories and focusing on the scale. Measure your success by how you feel, how your clothes fit or how much energy you have, rather than numbers, for long-term success.


Track and share your food. Studies show that writing down what you eat every day can help you lose up to twice as much weight as people who don’t. Want to take it one step further? Try a social-networking site like or the popular site, which also has a free iPhone app, to help you stay on track.



(Photo: AP Photo/OWN, George Burns)

Written by Brandi Tape


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