Weight Cycling and Body Composition in Obese Women

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal

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Roger L. HammerDepartment of Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859

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Daryl McCombsHuman Performance Research Center Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

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A. Garth FisherHuman Performance Research Center Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

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It has been suggested that weight loss and regain, known as weight cycling, may result in greater body fatness and increased upper body fat distribution which may lead to adverse health consequences. These are concerns that may discourage some obese women from undergoing weight loss efforts. We retested 44 obese women, who took part in one of two weight control studies conducted in our laboratory, at either 6 or 12 months posttreatment. The followup study was performed to determine whether percent body fat and waist/hip ratio (WHR) had increased in those subjects who failed to maintain their weight loss. Subjects lost (mean + SD) 8.6 + 1.2 kg body weight, of which 7.0 + 1.0 kg was fat, and reduced their WHR by 0.03 + 0.006 (all p’s < .01) after either 12 or 16 weeks of treatment comprised of eating a low-fat diet, and in most cases performing endurance exercise training. At followup subjects were divided into groups based on the amount of weight regained. Those who regained (n=19) their lost weight were not fatter nor was their WHR higher than before the study began. These results do not support claims that weight cycling, in this case a single cycle, increases overall percentage of body fat or causes a redistribution of fat to the abdominal region of women.

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