It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas—All the Time

Plus-Size Holiday Dresses. The holidays were back.

Posted Dec 31, 2017

This past November., the Huffington Post breathlessly announced “25 Plus-Size Holiday Dresses That’ll Sleigh This Season.”  The holidays were back. 


November seems so long ago now. Still, I would venture to guess that we were all mentally preparing for the weight gain expected during and between those red letter days.  Not just the Plus-Size models.


But, honestly, will the weight gain stop after the holidays?  They are not over yet.  Orthodox Christmas is coming up—January 07, I believe.  Super Bowl comes up after that. 

And then what?  We lose that weight we gained, right?

Are we fooling ourselves?  Let’s be real here: Death and Overeating do not, I think, take holidays.

Approximately sixteen years ago, an article published by Yanovski and colleagues showed that a sample of 195 adults gained an average of 0.37 kg during the holiday season. However, the researchers found that weight gain during this period is not subsequently lost in a year, and actually represents more than 50% of the weight gained throughout the year. Other researchers and other studies have found that this period could be critical in weight gain, mainly in adults. 

In other words, we may be singing “Auld Lang Syne” tonight, but the weight we have gained this holiday season is going nowhere fast.

A recent article sought to re-examine the evidence on the effect of the holidays on body weight.

In general, during the holidays, individuals have a more carefree lifestyle, attend more social gatherings, and partake of more eating opportunities: there tends to be a greater variety of foods, the foods in turn are high-energy dense foods and of bigger portion sizes, all done most likely in the company of other similarly indulging human beings—who, like you, are also probably exercising a little less, what with the shorter days and all………….

Alas, the data do demonstrate that even health practitioners and patients with controlled diabetes, highly motivated individuals and participants under treatment for obesity, all gain weight during the holiday season.  Participants seeking to lose weight appeared to increase weight, although this was not consistently significant; motivated self-monitoring people also appeared to increase weight.

However, only two studies have followed up the participants to see if this weight is maintained or subsequently lost. In the Yanovski study the weight gain was maintained afterwards, while the motivated self-monitoring group of Withings weight scale users lost the weight gained during the holiday season in the follow-up period. Thus, more studies are required with follow-up of the participants beyond the holiday season to evaluate if the weight gain is maintained or lost.

We have nothing if we have no hope.

The authors of the review do point out that programs focused on self-monitoring during the holidays (e.g., phone calls and daily mailing) appeared to prevent weight gain, but information is limited.

Considering my Christmas cards this year were courtesy of my insurance agent and the newspaper delivery man, I just might sign up next year. 

But enough of this.  It is New Years Eve.  And I am eating what I want.

I love you, Huffington Post.


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References

Yanovski J. A., Yanovski S. Z., Sovik K. N., Nguyen T. T., O'Neil P. M., Sebring N. G. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2000;342(12):861–867.

Boyce T. G. Weight gain over the holidays in three countries. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016;375(12):1200–1202. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1607283. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1602012.

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