Scales can be your friend during holidays

Author: Cal Powell

If gaining weight around the holidays is an issue for you, FACS researchers may have a helpful solution.

A FACS study has shown that a simple intervention – daily self-weighing – can help people avoid holiday weight gain.

Participants in a 14-week UGA study who weighed themselves daily on scales that also provided graphical feedback showing their weight fluctuations managed to maintain or lose weight during and after the holiday season, while a control group gained weight.

Researchers speculate that participants’ constant exposure to weight fluctuations – along with being able to see a target or goal weight line (their baseline weight) – motivated behavioral change that led to weight maintenance, or in the case of overweight subjects, weight loss.

“Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they’re eating more carefully,” said study author Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the department of foods and nutrition. “The subjects self-select how they’re going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size-fits-all.”

With the average American reportedly gaining a pound or two a year, overeating during the holiday season has been identified as a likely contributor to small weight gains that add up over time and can lead to obesity.

“Vacations and holidays are probably the two times of year people are most susceptible to weight gain in a very short period of time,” Cooper said. “The holidays can actually have a big impact on someone’s long-term health.”

FACS graduate Sepideh Kaviani was first author on the paper, which appeared in the journal Obesity. Michelle vanDellen from the UGA department of psychology also was an author on the paper.