Weight watchers warned over Xmas indulgence

12 December 2018 08:30

Some people consume up to 6,000 calories on Christmas Day

Some people consume up to 6,000 calories on Christmas Day

If you're worried about piling on the pounds this Christmas, regular home weighing could prevent you from excessive festive eating and drinking.

Carried out by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University, the Winter Weight Watch Study aims to help participants from gaining too much Christmas weight by arming them with tips to avoid overindulgence.

They were given 10 top tips for weight management along with information on how much exercise they'd have to do to burn off the calories in popular Christmas foods and drinks.

For example, it takes 21 minutes of running to burn off calories found in a single mince pie, and 33 minutes of walking to expend the calories in a small glass of mulled wine.

Intervention or comparison

The study saw 272 volunteers being randomly placed into either an "intervention" or a "comparison" group.

Those in the intervention group were asked to weigh themselves at least twice a week, but ideally every day, and record their weight on a card to help them monitor their food and drink intake.

In contrast, the comparison group received only a brief information leaflet about leading a healthy lifestyle, which did not include dietary advice.

The study, published in the BMJ, took place in 2016 and 2017, with participants weighed and measured in November and December each year and then follow-up measurements taken in January and February 2017 and 2018.

The results showed that on average, participants in the comparison group gained some weight over Christmas but participants in the intervention group did not.

Those in the intervention group ended the study weighing on average 0.49kg less than those in the comparison group.

Following the intervention, compared with the comparison group participants in the intervention group were assessed to be more able to restrain their eating and drinking.

Prolonged over-consumption

First author Frances Mason, of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research, said: "The festive season coincides with public holidays in many countries, providing an opportunity for prolonged over-consumption and sedentary behaviour.

"On Christmas Day alone, an individual might consume 6,000 calories - three times the recommended daily allowance.

"Christmas is likely to tax even the most experienced weight controller.

"Low intensity interventions such as the one used in our Winter Weight Watch Study should be considered by health policy makers to prevent weight gain in the population during high-risk periods such as holidays."

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