Binge eating and crash diets could shorten your life

According to scientists in Britain binge eating and crash dieting may significantly reduce life expectancy.

The scientists from Glasgow University in Scotland arrived at this conclusion based on the results of an animal study.

The study which compared the growth rate, success of reproduction and life span of stickleback fish, found that fish given a "binge then diet" food regime had a reduced life span of up to 25%.

The scientists believe their findings could have implications for teenagers and children who follow extreme patterns of dieting while they are still growing.

They say uneven growth, due to the fluctuation in the amount eaten per day, is responsible for the increase in the risk of sudden death.

The study was led by Professor Neil Metcalfe from the university's faculty of biomedical and life sciences, who says the fish on the fluctuating diet put just as much effort into breeding - the males became brightly coloured as usual and the females produced the normal number of eggs - but their life span was three-quarters that of animals eating a constant amount every day.

Professor Metcalfe says the difference in life span was not a consequence of more rapid ageing but an increase in the risk of sudden death, possibly because the body tissues are more likely to have imperfections due to growth spurts.

Professor Metcalfe says similar results would most likely be seen in other animals with short life spans that grow throughout their lives and could also be applied to humans who follow extreme patterns of dieting which would only occur in children and teenagers.

The findings are published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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