For years, the conventional wisdom among diet experts is that so-called “yo-yo dieting” — repeatedly gaining and losing weight — wreaks havoc on one’s metabolism, causing it to slow down.

But as it turns out, that may not be so true after all.

In a landmark study, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that a history of yo-yo dieting does not negatively affect metabolism or make it harder to lose weight long term.

The message, then, is that we shouldn’t stop exercising or trying to lose unnecessary pounds, even if our weight has bounced around in the past.

The study’s senior author, Dr. Anne McTiernan, pointed out the benefits of being active and shedding weight go far beyond appearances, saying, “The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter to a third of cancers could be prevented with maintenance of normal weight and keeping a physically active lifestyle.”

One thing the researchers do know is that severe yo-yo dieters tend to be, on average, nearly 20 pounds heavier than other people. So maybe it’s time to make a commitment to getting rid of your flab — once and for all.

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