New health warning on yo-yo diets

As new research suggests that yo-yo dieters 'suffer withdrawal symptoms' are you one of many people who go on a diet only to find yourself locked into a cycle of calorie-cutting and binge-eating?

Yo-yo dieting may produce withdrawal symptoms similar to those suffered by alcoholics and drug addicts, a study suggests.

The new research on rats suggests they may be experiencing effects in the brain seen in relapsing drug users. One group of rats was given standard food and sugary chocolate-flavoured rations at five and two day intervals. A second group only received standard food.

Diet-cycled rats began to turn their noses up at their ‘standard’ food while pouncing on the sugary treats. During the standard diet part of the cycle they suffered anxiety which vanished when they tasted chocolate.

Scientists found that when the rats were deprived of sugary food it affected a stress gene in the brain. The same stress system has been implicated in alcoholics and drug addicts who cannot beat their cravings.

Dr Valentina Sabino, a member of the team at Boston University Medical Center, said: ‘The stress experienced by frequent dieters in abstinence from palatable food has neurobiological similarities to the negative emotional state of drug and alcohol addicts.’

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