Most people do not realize that they pile on the kilos as years go by. Specific diets and lifestyle choices based on various foods and drinks, exercise and sleep pattern actually caused them to gradually get fatter.

All foods are NOT created equal and just by “eating in moderation” is not good enough. A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that specific diet and lifestyle behaviors affect weight change over years.

The 20 year study led by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian on 120,877 American men and women, 30-50 years old, were tracked on what they eat, drink, sleep and exercise every 4 years. The results reveal how much individual food makes people gain or lose weight.

Generally, the participants gain an average of 2.2 kg ( 3.35 lb ) over  4 years period. That means they gain an average of 11 kg in the 20 years study:

The amount of weight gained over 4 years with every serving of:

  • Potato chips – 0.77 kg / 1.69 lb
  • Potato – 0.58 kg / 1.28 lb
  • Sugary drinks – 0.45 kg / 1 lb
  • Unprocessed red meat – 0.43 kg / 0.95 lb
  • Processed red meat – 0.42 kg / 0.93 lb

The amount of weight lost over 4 years with every serving of :

  • Vegetables – 0.1 kg/ 0.22 lb
  • Whole grains – 0.17 kg/ 0.37 lb
  • Fruits – 0.22 kg/ 0.49 lb
  • Nuts – 0.25 kg / 0.57 lb
  • Yoghurt – 0.37 kg/ 0.82 lb

The amount of weight gained from other lifestyle and physical activities over 4 years:

  • Alcohol – 0.19 kg /drink/day
  • Smoking – 2.35 kg / 5.17 lb
  • Sleep – weight gain with less than 6 hours of sleep
  • TV – 0.14 kg/hr/day or 0.31 lb/hr/day

The findings add to the body of evidences that gaining weight is not just a matter of “calories in, calories out” and that “eat less, exercise more” is far too simplistic.  It is not enough to just reduce calories without paying attention to what those calories are made of.

The study shows that small dietary and other lifestyle changes can make a big difference – for good or bad. Therefore, make the right choice in the diet and lifestyle by:

  1. Eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day
  2. Reduce or avoid refine carbohydrate and starches and replace with whole grains
  3. Reduce or avoid processed food
  4. Increase intake of nuts, seeds and yoghurt
  5. Exercise regularly
  6. Reduce alcohol intake and Stop smoking

Take charge of your health by making these diet and lifestyle changes and you are well on your way to keeping healthy weight.

Are you following these diet and lifestyle choices already? How does that feel? Share with me in the comment below.

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