Across the world, people celebrate the holidays by feasting on delicious food, but doing so may come at a cost.
A new report confirms that eating during the holidays can cause people to pack on pounds and gain weight, eventually leading to a spike in weight gain in their respective countries.
However, there is a difference in the time and specific holiday in which these people gain weight, the study suggests. The trend was found in at least 3,000 residents in the United States, Japan and Germany.
Holiday Weight Gain
Over a 12-month period, approximately 1,781 Americans, 383 Japanese and 760 Germans participated in a research that involved wireless digital scales.
All respondents agreed on allowing the scale manufacturer Withings to use the data for a study. Details such as height, age, country and time zone were gathered during the registration process.
Beginning Aug. 1, 2012, the study participants weighed themselves each day. By the end of the one-year period, scientists used the scale data to calculate how each participant's weight changed through time, comparing the final weight to their initial weight.
In the end, researchers discovered that residents in all three countries gained weight during the holidays.
However, unlike Americans who gained weight during Thanksgiving, those in other countries put on pounds during other times of the year.
For instance, in the United States and Germany, participants gained weight the most during the start of January, following Christmas and New Year. The average weight increased 0.6 percent among Germans and 0.4 percent among Americans.
In Japan, although residents experienced weight gain during December and January, the highest weight gain occurred after the Golden Week — three consecutive holidays celebrated during the first week of May. The average weight saw a 0.3 increase during this time.
Furthermore, participants in both Japan and Germany did not experience a spike in weight gain after Thanksgiving, although Germans saw a 0.2 increase in average weight gain during Easter, while Americans saw the same amount of weight gain during Thanksgiving.
The findings of the research appear to indicate that people really do become heavier during the holidays and not merely for other reasons, experts said.
Elina Helander, one of the researchers of the study and a post-doctoral scientist at Tampere University, said prior to the group's research, there was little knowledge on how people's weights "behave" during the holidays.
"There's really this type of holiday [weight] gain you can see from this data that isn't because of [other effects]," said Helander.
Why The Findings Are Important
Mathematician Diana Thomas, who was not involved in the research, said the results are valuable because the spikes should tell us to view the holidays a little differently.
Thomas, who has worked on obesity research, said the data provides an opportunity to see where one can gain weight and where it happens. This means that holiday weight gain may even be prevented.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Photo: Igor Shatokhin | Flickr