Science & Nutrition

Weight management: Long-term habits more important than short-term splurges

06-Feb-2014 - By Caroline Scott-Thomas+
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People who lose or maintain weight in the long term are more likely to see distinct weight fluctuations over the course of a week than those who gain weight in the long term, according to a Finnish study.

The study, published in Obesity Facts, examined the weight of 80 adults across a week and how it related to their overall pattern of weight gain, maintenance or loss.

The researchers, from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, in collaboration with Cornell University and Tampere University of Technology, found that there was an overall pattern of higher weight on Sundays and Mondays. However, those who lost or maintained their weight tended to lose more weight from Tuesday until the weekend than those who gained weight.

“Weight gain following a weekend can be thought of as normal weight variation,” said VTT research scientist Anna-Leena Orsama. “Some indulging during weekends and gaining a bit of weight isn't harmful from the weight management point of view as long as this is compensated by healthy food choices during the week. It is important to notice these rhythms and take steps to reverse the upward trend after the weekend.”

The minimum monitoring period for participants’ weight was 15 days and the maximum was 330 days. Groups maintaining or losing weight managed to compensate for slight weight gain at the weekend, with weight decreasing from Tuesday until Friday, and the lowest weight frequently measured on a Friday or Saturday. However, those who gained weight overall had a less linear pattern, with minimum weight measured on all days of the week.

“It appears that long-term habits make more of a difference than short-term splurges,” the researchers wrote.

“Based on the findings of this study, we can expect weight to rise during weekends and treat it as a normal variation. Our results provide scientific support to the tenet that in weight management, allowing more flexibility during weekends and holidays might be more realistic and successful in the long term than a strict regimen.”

 

Source: Obesity Facts

Weight rhythms: Weight increases during weekends and decreases during weekdays

Authors: Orsama, A., Mattila, E., Ermes, M., van Gils, M., Wansink, B., & Korhonen, I., (2013). 

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