From that first slice of Thanksgiving turkey to that final glass of Champagne on New Year’s Eve, most people see weight gain during the holidays as inevitable. But it turns out that the average person doesn’t put on nearly as much poundage as you might think.
Over at the Obesity Panacea blog, Dr. Travis Saunders took issue with a sign he saw at a gym claiming, “FACT: The average person gains seven to ten pounds over the holidays.” Finding the claim a bit ambiguous (“Who is the ‘average’ person they are speaking of,” he asked), Saunders decided to go deeper and unearthed a paper from the New England Journal of Medicine called “A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain.”
What this study concluded was that, yes, people gain weight over the holidays – more so than during the rest of the year – but that average weight gain amounted to less than a pound, specifically 0.81 pounds. According to Saunders, just 10% of the 195 study participants put on more than five pounds during the holidays. All of this information clearly debunks the seven to ten pound claim, a “fact” that the New England Journal of Medicine mentions popping up in outlets from CNN to the Texas Medical Association.
If there is reason to worry, it would stem from the study’s finding that, again, according to Saunders, “the holiday weight-gain was not lost over the course of the year.” A mere 0.81 pounds might not sound like much, but over 12 years, you actually do add 10 pounds. Meaning you’re probably better off fulfilling your New Year’s resolution and actually shedding that extra pound soon before they start to pile up.
So where does the seven to ten pound stat originate from? Well, that’s still unclear. But remember, just like the tale of Santa Claus, don’t believe everything you hear during the holidays.