Research: Weight variability increases with psychologic status


Worsening psychologic status leads to weight cycling.



Several studies have suggested an association between weight cycling and psychological status.  It makes sense that anxiety and depression will lead to an increase in eating and less exercise.  Although I think that weight cycles an lead to psychological distress, anxiety and depression (as well as other behavioral illnesses) could lead to weight cycling.  It is highly likely that both have a positive effect and magnify the effects of each other.  

A new study provides an analysis of the bidirectional association between weight variability and psychological status over 8-years[1].  The subjects were nearly 4800 overweight/obese adults with Type 2 diabetes that were participating in the Look AHEAD study.  The randomized controlled trial is comparing health outcomes in individuals with Type 2 diabetes assigned to an intensive lifestyle intervention designed to produce weight loss or a diabetes education and support control group.  

Psychological status was assessed via surveys and weight was measured.  The researchers found a relationship between weight cycling and increased psychological symptoms.  Lower levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms were associated with significantly less subsequent weight variability. 

The bottom line:  These results suggest that a strong relationship between weight variability and psychological status.  This tie is due primarily to poorer psychological function preceding greater weight instability.  I would suggest that you employ stress control and BH counseling if you tend to have weight cycling or yo-yoing.  


C. R. Pacanowski et al., “Psychological status and weight variability over eight years: Results from Look AHEAD.,” Health Psychology, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 238–246, Mar. 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.1037/hea0000547″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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