Pardon this brief flash of white coat. I want to share with you a really amazing study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study combined the results of four large prospective studies on lifestyle and health outcomes. In total, this study analyzed the dietary (including beverage) choices, exercise, TV and sleep habits of 120,887 people. Whoa– that’s a lot of people!
And the results: over each four-year period analyzed, study subjects gained an average of 3.35 pounds. It doesn’t sound like a lot until you take twenty years, and then we’re looking at 16 pounds.
They were able to separate out the statistical influence of each of the different foods and habits. The biggest contender: potato chips (+1.69 bs). After that was potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed red meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb).
On the flip side, consumption of vegetables (−0.22 lb), whole grains (−0.37 lb), fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb), and yogurt (−0.82 lb) all had significant effects toward weight loss. Yes, exercise helped subjects lose weight, as did getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night (not less or more!). A stunning statistic: watching television by itself (without even eating potato chips) conferred over four years a weight gain of 0.31 lb per hour per day. That means two one-hour shows a day led to more than half a pound of weight gain per year.
Food for thought.