Obesity rates are on the rise worldwide, and the winter holiday season might be exacerbating the problem. A study conducted by researchers from the Grigore T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania found that people tend to hold onto the weight they gain during this time, particularly those who are already obese. This weight gain can contribute to a lifelong cycle of increasing weight.
The holiday season can be stressful, leading to higher levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with weight gain, according to Dr. Steven Batash, a gastroenterologist. Disrupted sleep during this time can also increase appetite and result in higher calorie intake. Registered dietitian Kelsey Costa points out that the abundance of tempting, high-calorie foods makes it difficult for individuals to resist indulging. Furthermore, these foods are often readily available at workplaces and social gatherings, exceeding recommended daily calorie intake.
Maintaining physical activity during the holidays is crucial in preventing weight gain, according to Dr. Nilda Agnes Abellera, a medical director. She warns against adopting a sedentary lifestyle and waiting until January to start exercising. To gain a better understanding of when individuals are particularly vulnerable to weight gain, researchers conducted a systematic review of studies on eating behaviors and weight gain during the winter holidays. They discovered that weight fluctuations during this time can have long-term effects, especially for those with obesity.
The researchers note some limitations in their study, such as the limited number of articles included and variations in study methods. They also highlight that BMI might not accurately determine overweight or obesity and that there is a dearth of research on older populations.
In their paper, the researchers provided tips for reducing the risk of weight gain during the winter holidays. These include practicing portion control, maintaining physical activity, and being mindful of high-calorie foods and drinks.
This study underscores the need for effective strategies to combat obesity and emphasizes the importance of understanding the factors contributing to weight gain during the winter holidays. By adopting healthier behaviors during this time, individuals can work towards long-term weight management.