According to a review article published today in the journal iScience, when it comes to getting healthy and reducing mortality risk, increasing physical activity and improving fitness appear to be superior to weight loss. The authors say that employing a weight-neutral approach to the treatment of obesity-related health conditions also reduces the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting, reports Medical Xpress. “We would like people to know that fat can be fit, and that fit and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes,” says co-author Glenn Gaesser of the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University. “We realize that in a weight-obsessed culture, it may be challenging for programs that are not focused on weight loss to gain traction. We’re not necessarily against weight loss; we just think that it shouldn’t be the primary criterion for judging the success of a lifestyle intervention program.” Adds co-author Siddhartha Angadi of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia: “This is especially important when you consider the physiological realities of obesity. Body weight is a highly heritable trait, and weight loss is associated with substantial metabolic alterations that ultimately thwart weight loss maintenance.” Obesity is associated with a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and problems with the bones and joints. But weight cycling, commonly called yo-yo dieting, is also associated with health problems, including muscle loss, fatty liver disease, and diabetes.