With the obesity epidemic in the United States still going strong, weight loss is a hot topic in the health world—as well it should be. In 2009, studies showed that 63.1 percent of adults in the United States were either overweight or obese. Obesity affects more than your appearance—it also affects your life expectancy. Adults who are overweight or obese have a much higher chance of dying from heart disease or diabetes later down the road. But staying thin doesn’t necessarily mean starving yourself in the process.
A new study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that those who ate less didn’t necessarily weigh less. Instead, those that made better choices throughout the day weighed less in the long run.
Think a handful of French fries won’t hurt later on down the road? Think again. The study’s results suggested that a single serving of fatty foods, like French fries, a day may have more effect than you think.
Choosing a serving of fatty food may lead to serious health problems later on.
Photo by Scott Ableman/Courtesy Flickr
The study followed more than 120,000 adults who were of normal weight when the study started. However, those adults who chose a serving of potato chips, for example, rather than a serving of yogurt, gained considerably more weight each year. To be exact, a serving of potato chips, or about 15 chips, each day was associated with an extra 1.7 pounds every 4 years. Those who chose a serving of French fries each day fared even worse with a gain of an extra 3.4 pounds every 4 years.
Individuals who opted for more healthy choices, such as yogurt, fruit or nuts, weighed less than expected when it came time to jump on the scale.
Exercising more, rather than camping out in front of the television, was
associated with less weight gain among the study's participants.
Photo by therichardlife/Courtesy Flickr
Exercise came into play as well when the results were tallied. For every extra hour the participants spent tuned in to their televisions, rather than sweating it out on the treadmill, an extra one-third pound was gained every four years. Those who kicked their exercise routines up a notch during the study gained almost two pounds less every four years.
Sleeping less than six hours, or more than eight, also resulted in more weight gain than those who maintained normal sleeping habits.
So, really, keeping obesity at bay doesn’t have to require any huge lifestyle changes as you age. Making small, smart choices, like reaching for a carrot rather than a candy bar or walking on the treadmill while catching up on your favorite sitcoms, may be enough to keep your belly from bulging.