Background: Combatting over-weight or obesity can lead to large fluctuations in an individual‟s body weight, often referred to as weight cycling or “yo-yo” dieting. Current evidence regarding the potentially damaging effects of these changes is conflicting.
Methods: Here, we assess the metabolic effects of weight cycling in a murine model, comprising three dietary switches to normal or high fat diets at 6 week intervals; male C57BL/6 mice were fed either a control (C) or high fat (F) diet for 6 weeks (n=140/group). C and F groups were then either maintained on their initial diet (CC and FF respectively) or
switched to a high fat (CF) or control (FC) diet (n=35/group). For the final 6 week interval, CC and CF groups were returned to the control diet (CCC and CFC groups) while FC and FF groups were placed on a high fat diet (FCF and FFF) (n=28/group).
Results: For the majority of metabolic outcomes changes aligned with dietary switches; however assessment of neuropeptides and receptors involved in appetite regulation and reward signalling pathways reveal variable patterns of expression. Furthermore, we demonstrate that multiple cycling events leads to a significant increase in internal fat
deposition, even when compared to animals maintained on a high fat diet (Internal Fat: FCF: 7.4 ± 0.2g vs. FFF: 5.6 ± 0.2g; p<0.01).
Conclusions: Increased internal adipose tissue is strongly linked to the development of metabolic syndrome associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease
and hypertension. While further work will be required to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the neuronal control of energy homeostasis, these studies provide a causative
link between weight cycling and adverse health.