Holiday Weight Gain: Exploring the Nuance

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It’s that time of the year when we’re inundated with endless family feasts, work parties, eggnog, and chocolate covered everything. We celebrate a figure who consumes millions of calories of cookies in a single night, whose stomach shakes like a sandwich topping, and whose employees’ dietary staple is the candy cane. Food and drink are constantly on the brain.

We’ve been repeatedly told that we’ll be carrying around at least 5 extra pounds after the damage is done. As Yanovski and colleagues note in the New England Journal of Medicine, this message has been perpetuated by certain news outlets and medical associations alike. This year is no exception, with bad science reinforcing the idea to sell product. There are in fact no studies that show, on average, that this much weight gain occurs. It would be surprising if they did, given that the average annual weight gain is fewer than 2 pounds. Even so, that doesn’t preclude a risk of holidays on weight, and given the strong links between weight gain and cancer it is worth an exploration of the research.

By my count, there are 9 studies on weight gain over Thanksgiving or the whole holiday period (Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day), however most have low numbers of participants, are in specific populations (like college students), or are too short to draw definitive conclusions. Read more… “Holiday Weight Gain: Exploring the Nuance”


    Obese and Sedentary: How Does Your State Rank?

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    Americans are living longer then ever before but over a quarter of us are inactive and obese, leading to increased levels of diabetes and other chronic conditions, according to a new report by the United Health Foundation.

    Both type 2 diabetes and obesity increase the risk of cancer. Although cancer deaths have declined since 1990 with the help of medical advances, the unhealthy lifestyle habits seen throughout our country suggests that more people will be living longer with a chronic illness or be at increased risk of being diagnosed with cancer.

    The 2012 America’s Health Rankings pulled data from government and other sources to gather 24 health measures state by state. You can see the report and how your state ranks here.

    For the sixth year in a row, Vermont topped the list for the healthiest state – yet even here, 24 to 30 percent of its residents are obese. Hawaii is ranked as the second healthiest state, followed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Minnesota. The five least healthy states are South Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi and Louisiana, which tied for the 49th slot. Read more… “Obese and Sedentary: How Does Your State Rank?”


      Want to lose weight? Forget past yo-yo diets and grab an apple

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      Because overweight and obesity increase risk for seven cancers, we write a lot about diet and exercise choices to stay lean and to lose weight if you are overweight. Now, two new studies provide some good news on that topic, especially for post-menopausal women who want to lose weight.

      The authors of the first study, published in Metabolism, wanted to know whether postmenopausal women who had lost and regained weight multiple times throughout their life (yo-yo dieting) would have different results from a weight loss diet and exercise program than their peers who did not have a history of yo-yo dieting. Some research, though not all, suggests that weight cycling may lead to lower metabolic rate, higher body fat and lower body esteem. Read more… “Want to lose weight? Forget past yo-yo diets and grab an apple”