We all know it: winter is a period conducive to weight gain. But be careful, these extra pounds are often retained over time, particularly in obese people.
Between richer meals and shorter days that encourage less exercise, it is easier to gain weight in winter. According to a meta-analysis, the pounds gained during the holiday season tend to be retained, particularly among obese people.
How do winter holidays impact obesity?
For this work, Romanian scientists from the University of Grigore T. Popa carried out a meta-analysis of studies on weight gain in winter, published from 2013 to 2023, including only adult participants aged 18 to 65 years. The researchers focused on 10 works that specifically addressed their topic of interest.
Nine of the ten studies took place in the United States, Spain or the United Kingdom. A total of 4,627 individuals were included in the studies. Women predominated in six of the studies at 65%, while one study enrolled 74% men.
Holiday weight gain can have a long-term impact
The only multinational study collected information on weight changes from 2,924 people living in the United States, Central Europe and Japan over a 12-month period. Participants from all three countries experienced weight fluctuations during the winter holidays. About half of the weight gained remained until the end of the study, suggesting that vacation-related weight gain may produce long-term effects.
In other studies, experts observed that people with obesity were more likely to gain weight on vacation than people of normal weight. Some research has shown a positive correlation between eating at restaurants while on vacation and increased BMI.
NO to diets, YES to WW!
Studies with certain limitations
If scientists believe that eating habits typical of winter holidays have systematically induced weight gain in people with a normal or higher BMI, they also note that people affected by obesity gained more weight than those with normal weight, and had more difficulty losing extra pounds after the holiday season.
However, these studies all have limitations. The researchers argue, for example, that the follow-up period for certain work (ten years) was too short. Other experts believe that BMI may not be an accurate determinant of overweight or obesity. Remember that obesity is a pathology that must be treated because it represents a significant risk factor: it represents the fifth cause of death in the world.