A new study that appears in the New England Journal of Medicine this week has found contradictions to the saying, "eat less and exercise more", as a means of avoiding middle-age weight gain.
Researchers followed weight patterns of over 120,000 adults between the ages of 33 and 60 to find, on average, the participants gained 3.4 pounds every 4 years, but those who ate HEALTHY gained LESS than expected.
For example, those eating one serving of potato chips per day typically gained an extra 1.7 pounds every four years, while a daily serving of french fries was associated with an extra 3.4 pounds.
However, for each daily serving of yogurt participants ate, the study found they gained 0.8 FEWER pounds every four years! For each daily serving of fruits and nuts, participants gained around a half pound less!
The findings suggest that eating less of EVERYTHING may not help as much as eating less of some things (the chips and french fries) and more of others (yogurt, nuts, fruit), as the lead researcher explained:
"It's not 'everything in moderation. There's a myth that there's no good and bad foods. There are foods that are good or bad for different health outcomes."
The study also revealed lifestyle choices and activities are key. For each hour of television watched, participants gained an extra third of a pound every four years on average. Those who slept less then 6, but more than 8 hours per day were also subject to weight gain.
Exercise was still one of the most influential factors since participants who ramped up their exercise schedule during the study gained as much as 1.76 fewer pounds than expected.
In a nutshell, the study shows that weight sneaks up on us, but a concentrated effort to acquire healthier tastes in food, while maintaining a healthy amount of exercise will prevent the pounds from packing on.
For those of us who can't go a day without a bag of chips, it might be time to find a new favorite snack.
[Image via AP Images.]