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Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal condition which affects how the ovaries work, is thought to affect 20% of women worldwide. Yet despite how common the condition is, and the serious effect it has on women’s health, researchers still aren’t completely sure what causes PCOS – let alone how best to manage and treat the condition.

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Alongside taking hormonal therapy, most guidance states weight loss is one of the best ways to manage PCOS. Even just a 5% loss of body weight is shown to improve symptoms. Weight loss can also help reduce risk of developing more serious health problems related to excess weight, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea.

But hormonal imbalances linked to PCOS can make it difficult for women to lose weight. Historic underfunding for PCOS-centred research also means there’s a serious lack of reliable, evidence-based guidance on the best ways to lose weight – and what PCOS symptoms may improve as a result.

This leads many women to turn to the internet, where diet advice is abundant. But this information is often profit-driven and potentially grounded in misinformation. Not only does this questionable diet advice provide false hope for people with PCOS, it may also be putting them at risk of harm – including disordered eating.


Read the full story on The Conversation website co-authored by Sharon DixonResearcher, Jadine Scragg, Researcher and Cervantée Wild, Research Fellow, all of the Nuffield Department for Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

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