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Could yo-yo dieting actually cause you to pack on the pounds?

Many Americans are chronic yo-yo dieters. They go on a severely restricted, ultra low-calorie diet to reach a weight loss goal. Once that goal has been achieved, they quickly tire of being on such a limited diet. So, they go back to their old habits and regain the weight that they lost.

Unfortunately, frustration and weight regain are not the only results of frequent yo-yo dieting.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that yo-yo dieting can alter the way the body responds to stress. 

This study found that yo-yo dieting actually caused permanent changes to genes that control how the body handles stress. The end result being that those with a history of yo-yo dieting will eat more as a reaction to stressful situations than who do not yo-yo diet.

An earlier study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reported that yo-yo dieting can permanently damage the immune system as well.

As Americans think their 2011 New Year’s resolutions, they should determine to stop yo-yo dieting and following the latest trends. Instead, they should make permanent lifestyle changes to improve their overall health like:

• Incorporating lower-fat proteins and dairy products.

• Enjoying all things in moderation.

• Filling up on fruits and vegetables instead of carbohydrates.

• Eating a diet rich in whole grains.

• Cooking with healthier fats, like extra virgin olive oil, instead of butter.