Your Holiday Weight Gain Starts Now, Says Study

An informal list of my favorite things about the holidays: spending time with family and friends, opening gifts, and eating anything and everything that crosses my path. Unsurprisingly, weight gain over the holidays is as universal as gift-giving and party-going, according to a new study published The New England Journal of Medicine. What is surprising? The fact that holiday weight gain starts in October, and it can take up to five months to regain your post-holiday figure.

The researchers, led by Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, examined the year-round weight patterns of 2924 participants hailing from Germany, Japan, and the United States. Each participant purchased a wireless Withings scale as part of the experiment, agreeing to weekly weigh-ins and periodic body measurements. Americans reportedly began gaining weight in October, reaching their highest weight of the year 10 days after Christmas. On average, American participants gained 1.3 pounds during the holiday season, according to Health.

“The weather may explain the gradual increase, but we also see these spikes that start about a week before the holiday and peak a few days after,” said Brian Wansink, co-author of the study. “To me, that suggests that the holidays themselves aren’t the problem—it’s more the ramping up beforehand and all the Halloween candy or Thanksgiving leftovers or Christmas cookies you’re eating afterward.”

Do you tend to gain weight over the holidays? Share your experience in the comments below.