Does the Average Person Pack On Pounds During the Holidays? Fact vs. Myth


With just a few weeks until Thanksgiving, many of us are already bracing ourselves for a season of eating, drinking, and as a result, stretchy pants. But even with the frequent festivities, do the holidays really doom us to an additional five or ten pounds of body weight?

According to the majority of the studies that have examined weight gain during the holiday season, we put on very little, if any, weight during the holidays. However, even without weight gain, we tend to increase our body fat percentage, which may partially explain why we often have the illusion of weight gain.

That said, even small gains over the holidays are a cause for concern, because we generally do not lose the weight throughout the rest of the year. Over time, small gains during the holiday period can account for 51 percent of lifetime fat accumulation.

Interestingly, the amount of weight you gain over the holidays could depend on your pre-holiday weight. Overweight and obese individuals tend to gain more weight during the holidays than those who begin November at an average weight. Moreover, one study found that 14 percent of individuals did manage to gain five pounds or more during the holiday season.

To summarize, while the average person does not gain close to five pounds from Thanksgiving to New Years, small holiday gains are significant since they accumulate over time. Overweight and obese individual are at risk of gaining more than average weight individuals, and it is possible to gain five pounds or more in a six week holiday period.

When it comes to the science of wellness, distinguishing the facts from the urban legends can be tough. That’s why we’ve enlisted Darya Pino – a scientist, foodie, and self-proclaimed geek girl. Check out the ZocDoc Blog every other week to see her bust the biggest myths in health.

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