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New research finds that yo-yo dieting can actually lead to lasting and successful weight loss.

A new study performed by Anne McTiernan and her team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that yo-yo dieting does not affect a person’s ability to lose weight.

"You hear people say, 'Diets don't work for me,' but they do work if you use a structure and stick with it," McTiernan said. "The message is: Don't give up."

McTiernan and her team studied over 400 overweight, inactive women between the ages of 50 and 75. The women were involved in one of four programs: a reduced-calorie diet, a reduced-calorie diet with an exercise program, a solitary exercise program, or no type of weight-loss program at all. The exercise plan included a minimum of 3 hours of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking per week.  

The study found that the women who participated in the reduced-calorie program lost approximately 9 percent of their staring weight with an average of 16 pounds. Those who participated in the combined program of diet and exercise lost nearly 22 pounds.

Approximately 42 percent of the women had a history of over three attempts in losing and gaining ten pounds on previous dieting programs.

Study results found that diet cyclers and non-cyclers lose about the same amount of weight.

Some studies have indicated that yo-yo dieting can have adverse health and psychologies effects while other studies show that it does not.

Gary Foster, the director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University believes that this study gives positive news to people who have long struggled with weight loss.

"Weight control is tough work but even a small weight loss brings big improvements in the medical and psychosocial consequences of obesity," Foster said.

Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity agrees that this news adds hope to those who found weight loss disheartening.

Elaine Jacobson of Rochester, N.Y., 56, said that that she had to make some permanent lifestyle changes such as portion control and frequently eating out to aid her weight loss. She’s down to 129 pounds from 285 pounds.

Elizabeth Cullen of Wallingford, Connecticut lost 120 pounds while on Weight Watchers but gained some of it back after she had knee surgery.

"The results of the study reinforce how I see my weight issues. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle," Cullen said. "Being consistent and working toward a healthy lifestyle is what is important and that is a goal that is certainly never too late to try again."

Kevin Fowler has lost 49 pounds and finds the study’s results comforting. He admits that his weight fluctuates up down and about seven pounds, but he remains persistent.

"It's a lot of work to get it off, so you want to try to keep it off," Fowler said. 

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