I Don’t Want To Gain Weight Over the Holidays!

It is not a secret that the holidays are associated with weight gain. I often describe the time from mid-November to January as “The Eating Season”. Studies show the average weight gain is 1 to 3.5 pounds. More importantly, this weight gain persists after the holidays and is a large contributor to annual weight gain. Individuals with overweight or obesity are vulnerable to gaining the most weight. Is there something that can be done to prevent this “inevitable” weight gain?

Yes, and it is simple! Weigh yourself every day and record it. A recent study looked at this easy intervention. The study observed weight gain during the time period from just before Thanksgiving to after New Year’s Day.

One group in the study performed daily self-weighing (DSW), and this information was charted to provide visual graphical feedback (GF). This DSW+GF group was also instructed to try not to gain weight. A second group (the controls) did not receive any intervention or instruction.

What were the results?

  • In the DSW+GF group, individuals with overweight or obesity (OW/OB) lost weight, and those with normal weight maintained their weight during the holidays!
  • In contrast, those in the control group gained weight and the gain was the same between individuals with OW/OB and individuals of normal weight.
  • Additionally, the control group retained 57% of their weight gain 14 weeks after New Year’s Day.

Conclusion: To maintain, or even possibly lose weight during the “Eating Season”, perform daily weights and graph the results on any of the currently available health apps. This will also provide a “head start” toward any weight-related New Year’s resolutions.

Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season!

Helander, E. Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries. N Engl J Med 375;12: 1200-1202. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1602012

Kaviani S, vanDellen M, Cooper J. Daily-Weighing to Prevent Holiday-Associated Weight Gain in Adults. Obesity 2019; 27:906-916.