Whitesburg KY

Holiday weight gain a myth

The common assumption that people put on five pounds over the holidays has been studied and actually found to be a myth, according to scientists at Vanderbilt University. In fact, winter holiday weight gain is, on average, closer to three-quarters of a pound to one pound.

And while this doesn’t sound as drastic, what typically happens with obesity is that people gain weight slowly and keep it on, said Vanderbilt obesity expert Roger Cone, Ph.D., professor and chairman of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics.

“It’s not just overeating at holidays. We are chronically overeating and underexercising in this country,” Cone said. “And what happens then is your weight gradually creeps up.”

“If we do become obese, it’s because there is a minor difference between what we are consuming and what we are burning,” he said. “So the trick is to try to match your energy expenditure with your energy intake, to try to control your diet overall and keep it healthy, and to try to up your activity until the two are in balance.”

Obesity leads to healthcare costs that are 36 percent higher, on average, and a 77 percent increase in medication costs.

Liz Aleman, Healthy Children’s program manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said obesity is the result of poor choices and behaviors more than genetics and metabolism, which means there is a lot a person can do to fight obesity.

Focus beyond the Christmas table and holiday overeating.

The struggle with obesity is year-round. ©2011 King Features Synd.

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