Women who've hit menopause and are overweight can reduce risk of many health complications by losing weight. However, putting the weight back on will affect cardiovascular health, says a new study.

Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that gaining weight back after losing weight intentionally is associated with adverse effects on some cardiometabolic risk factors in women who have reached menopause.

Cardiometabolic risk comprises a cluster of risk factors that are indicators for overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.

"In this group of women, weight loss and maintaining that loss offers the most health benefit, but therein lies the problem. For most people, weight regain after intentional weight loss is an expected occurrence, and the long-term health ramifications of weight regain in older adults are not well understood," said Daniel Beavers PhD, from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The study included 112 obese, postmenopausal women averaging 58 years of age. These women were part of a weight loss program. During the five month weight intervention period, women lost a significant amount of weight - 25 pounds on average. During follow-up visits, researchers found that these women had regained 70 percent of weight. About two-thirds of the participants had gained more than four pounds of weight. Researchers analyzed cardiometabolic risk factors of these women before and after they lost weight.

Researchers found that reducing weight led to a decrease in risk factors of cardiovascular diseases. But, gaining back weight meant that these women had again increased their cardiometabolic (CM) risk factors, which was even worse than the risk before their weight loss.

"What we found was that all CM risk factors are improved with weight loss, which is not surprising, but most regressed back to their baseline values 12 months later, especially for women who were classified as 'regainers'. For women who had regained weight in the year after their weight loss, several risk factors were actually worse than before they lost the weight," Kristen Beavers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.