Why Losing Those Extra Holiday Pounds is a Great Idea

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In the aftermath of the holidays, it can seem like just too much work to try and shake off any recent weight gain.  After all - if like most people - you've put on just a pound or two, and not the dreaded 7-10 extra pounds often warned against. Your pants might feel a bit snug, but how much harm can that minor weight gain really do?

The problem, according to University of Wisconsin nutritional sciences professor Dale Schoeller, is that most people who gain weight between November and January don't ever lose it.

 And while one or two pounds might not sound like much, Schoeller points out in a 2014 paper published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, accruing even that little each year is on par with the yearly incremental weight increase associated with our current obesity epidemic.  Just 0.3 kg (0.6 lb) yearly, collecting on every adult since 1960, argues Schoeller, could account for more than 50 extra pounds today - affecting not only our weight as we age, but our overall body shape as well.

So is our growing epidemic of obesity a result of too much turkey and pumpkin pie?  Not entirely - and many researchers look instead at weight gain trends beginning later, in the 1980s, which coincide with the consumption of more highly-processed food and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Still, little gains add up over time.  The good news is that even losses of just 5% of your total body weight can make you healthier and less prone to many age-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

If you indulged more than usual over the holiday months, quickly getting back to your regular habits, eating mindfully, trying to reduce your calorie intake in the weeks to come, and inserting some extra physical activity into your routine will no doubt help you shake off the one gift you probably didn't want this holiday season - a tighter waistband.


Schoeller DA. "The effect of holiday weight gain on body weight." Physiol Behav. 2014 Jul;134:66-9.

Jack A. Yanovski, Susan Z. Yanovski, Kara N. Sovik, Tuc T. Nguyen, Patrick M. O'Neil, and Nancy G. Sebring. "A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain." N Engl J Med 2000; 342:861-867.

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