Yo-Yo Dieting Alters The Way We Handle Stress

Published:December 3rd, 2010

Yo-yo dieting can change the way our body handles stress and can cause us to overeat, according to a new study published in the December 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. The findings of this study show that moderate diets can influence the way our brain responds to stress and crash diets can make us more susceptible to weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania had examined the hormone levels and behaviour of laboratory mice that were fed on limited diets. The mice lost 10 to 15% of body weight after three weeks of a fewer calorie diet similar to human diets. Previous studies showed that mice that have a lifelong calorie restricted diets live 50% longer than well-fed mice. Quick-fix diets led to an increased level of the stress hormone corticosterone and to depression like behaviour.

Several genes that are important in regulating eating and stress have changed, according to the researchers. Experiences that can alter the form and structure of DNA fall into the domain of epigenetics. Such epigenetic changes were reported to last even when mice started to be fed back to reach normal weights.

Results suggested that dieting not only increases stress, but it can also reprogram the way our brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food. Future weight loss drugs should target such stress related molecules.


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