Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Only a Couple Pounds...

There's the "Freshman 15", the "Winter Cushion" and the "Seasonal 7".  All ways to describe little increases in weight that are more or less 'expected' and 'accepted' as normal in today's society.  These small weight 'creeps' often get downplayed as insignificant.  It is - "only a couple pounds", right? 

According to a couple of recent studies it might be time to seriously look at vacation and seasonal "no rules" eating.   A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism shows that overeating, even for short periods, may result in long-term negative health effects.  The study had subjects overeat and reduce activity for a period of four weeks, (think the holiday season...).  At the end of the four week period the individuals had gained an average of 14 pounds.  Now, here's where it gets good.  After six months the subjects had lost, on average, 50% of the weight gained in the four week food festival.  At 12 months, weights were still greater than starting and at 2.5 years post study the overeaters were an average of 11 pounds heavier and were carrying 2-4% more body fat than they were prior to the pigout.  The weights of control group subjects were nearly the same at the beginning and end of the study period.

Additionally, new research from the Mayo Clinic found that when healthy young people gain as little as nine pounds of fat their risk of endothelial dysfunction increased significantly.  This was especially true when the additional pounds were stored in the abdominal area.   When research subjects lost the weight they had gained normal blood flow returned.  Researchers state that conclusions cannot be made as to if blood flow recovery would occur in the event that additional weight was maintained for longer periods of time.

So, what does all this mean?  What most of us already know...  The 'occasional' cheat meal is acceptable, healthy and normal, however; justifying eating 'off' for the entire holiday season or while on a two week vacation is not a good idea.  In fact, those frequent moments of indulgence may cost more than you think!