03 December 2010New scientific studies have discovered that not only can yo-yo dieting increase the chances of stretch marks and saggy skin, but could also encourage dieters to comfort eat. According to a report in The Telegraph, repeatedly losing and gaining weight could reprogram the way the brain deals with stressful situations and this could make people more likely to crave food at these times. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania examined the behaviour of mice who were given different diets, and found that those who were 'dieting' had increased levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and displayed depression-like behaviour. These levels did not drop back to normal when the mice were fed back to their normal weights, and researchers found that several genes important in regulating stress and eating had changed. Dr Tracy Bale, who led the research, said: "These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually 'reprogramme' how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food." The problems associated with yo-yo dieting are numerous, and people are found to be more likely to suffer from problems such as stretch marks, sagging skin and drooping breasts when their weight regularly fluctuates widely. A recent increase in the number of people booking laser treatments for stretch marks could be connected to the high levels of people who are stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting and comfort eating. A sensible eating plan accompanied by an increase in exercise offers one of the safest way to lose excess fat and maintain a healthy weight.