Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Facts About Weight Gain During the Holiday Season

The average person over the course of a year consumes about 912,500 calories. A person who eats just an extra 4,050 calories or so a year will gain a pound over the course of that year (Jack Yanovski, MD).

I have often mentioned that the average weight gain during the Holiday season can be as much as 8-10 pounds - with the average person gaining about 5 pounds during this this time (Thanksgiving to New Years). I personally know about this! I have also seen many fitness publications over the years report similar numbers.

I thought some additional research on the topic, however, would be beneficial - more from peer-reviewed scientific journals than fitness publications - this time around. I found some interesting facts across a few studies:

-The average gain during the Holidays that was cited in a few studies was only 1-2 pounds . Less than 10% of the subjects in one study had weight gain of 5 or more pounds. The sample size was 195 subjects in one study and 1 year later 165 of those subjects were weighed again and had a gain of 1.36 pounds. "The good news is it's not as bad as we thought," said Dr. Jack Yanovski, the studies principal investigator and head of NICHD's Unit on Growth and Obesity. "The bad news is that it's hard to take off that weight the rest of the year." The study goes on to report "The average person today is probably gaining about 12 pounds per decade. If you gain a pound or so over the holidays, there it is."

Not everyone gains weight, but if you put on a few over the holiday, those pounds rarely ever come off," added Dr. Lawrence Stifler, president of Health Management Resources (HMR), which specializes in professional programs for weight and health management. Then on the upper end you have people gaining as much as 20-30 pounds during the Holiday festivities according to Leslie Fink, a nutritionist for

Excess weight gain obviously is not just a holiday phenomenon. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight and nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to National Institutes of Health reports.

Some of my tips for the Holiday season to help prevent unwanted weight gain are:
-Try mixing in a glass of ice water in between drinks while at a party and of course try to keep the wine or beer to a minimum.
- Something that works personally well for me - try not eating or drinking after 8 PM (even if it's just during the week). Some employees at Koko Fitness take it a step further by brushing their teeth and flossing after they eat dinner - to help prevent those unwanted late evening calories.
-Shoot for activities during most days of the week that elicit elevated heart rate levels for 30-60 minutes - work in interval training - and use a heart rate monitor.
-Keep the TV watching to a minimum - for every hour of sitting in front of the tube your taking 144 less steps.
-Finally, get plenty of sleep - chronic sleep loss could have adverse effects on metabolism that in turn influence hunger and weight gain and when your constantly tired it's more diffciult to resist temptations like sweets.


Brooklyn said...

Hey thanks for the tips. They will surely help in not gaining that unwanted weight this Christmas. I think walking is a great exercise. Instead of wasting time sitting in front of the television we can walk a mile.

Michael Wood, CSCS said...


your right it is a great form of exercise - when you are looking for a change - try hiking - it burns more calories and you can make it as easy or as challenging as you like (i.e. wearing a backpack etc - walking poles are also great)