Maintaining a steady weight helps you avoid hypertension

People who yo-yo diet are more likely to have high blood pressure, which can lead to fatal heart attacks and strokes, a new study has revealed.

Researchers who worked on the study, from the American Heart Association, looked at the effects of five healthy lifestyle behaviors, and found that one of them – maintaining a healthy weight – made a more substantial difference than the rest.

The other behaviors they looked at were refraining from smoking, drinking little to no alcohol, exercising and eating healthy foods, and these did not directly impact participants’ blood pressure the way maintaining a healthy weight did.

The study was the first of its kind to look at the effects of yo yo dieting over a 25-year period. 

And its researchers are warning that – as the holidays approach – it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight, rather than gaining and losing a few pounds continuously.

A new American Heart Association report has found that yo yo dieting is more likely to cause high blood pressure over an extended period of time than smoking, drinking excessively, maintaining an unhealthy diet or not being active enough (file photo)


The Mayo Clinic suggests implementing these simple changes into your daily routine to reduce your chances of being hypertensive:

  • Increase the amount of potassium in your diet
  • Keep a food diary, so you become more aware of the types of foods you are eating
  • Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet
  • Eat fewer processed foods
  • Read the labels on food products you pick up while you are grocery shopping
  • Adhere to a healthy-eating plan while you are dining out, too

The clinic also says that the best types of exercise for lowering your blood pressure are:

  • walking or jogging
  • cycling
  • swimming
  • dancing 

For the study, researchers followed 4,630 people for 25 years. They began observing the participants when they were aged 18 to 30, in 1985 and 1986.

During the follow-up, the researchers measured their blood pressure and took note of their health behaviors at eight different times, until the participants were in middle age.

They found that participants who refrained from smoking and consumed little or no alcohol had less of an increase in blood pressure by middle age.

But the biggest improvement was seen in participants who were a healthy weight throughout – regardless of their other habits.

And the researchers found that staying physically active and on a healthy diet did not influence participants’ blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is called the ‘silent killer’ because there are no symptoms for it. About 75 million Americans – which translates to one in three US adults – live with high blood pressure.

Hypertension increases one’s chances of having a stroke and heart disease, and about 1,000 Americans die because of it each day.

Study researcher Dr John Booth said that the new findings suggest that people need to pay more attention to trying to be healthy on a consistent basis.

‘The results provide evidence that what we may want to do is focus on how we can create interventions that will enable individuals to maintain a normal body weight throughout their lifetimes,’ Dr Booth said.

The study was funded by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.