20 Dec 2018

A study by the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University has shown that regular weighing at home and simple tips to curb excess eating and drinking can prevent people from piling on the pounds at Christmas. Researchers carried out the ‘Winter Weight Watch Study’ – a trial that aimed to prevent participants from gaining weight over the festive season by arming them with tips and techniques to avoid overindulging.

It 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 per week, but ideally every day, and record their weight on a record card to help them monitor their food and drink intake. They were also given 10 top tips for weight management and a list of how much physical activity would be needed to burn off calories found in popular food and drinks consumed at Christmas. For example, it takes 21 minutes of running to burn the calories in a mince pie and 33 minutes of walking to expend the calories found in a small glass of mulled wine.

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

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