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Cummulative Holiday Weight Gain and Heart Health: The Pound-And-A-Half Challenge

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November and December were certainly the season of family, togetherness, wonderment and joy. All of this happiness and joy were accompanied by a seemingly endless parade of food set out on tables which breathed a sigh of relief as we transferred the delicious concoctions to our loaded plates.

The only problem with all of this grazing is that eventually, all of this delectable and delicious joy transfers right to our tummies and thighs, leaving behind a little evidence of the holiday joy and cheer for the rest of the world to see.

In reality, most of us don’t gain that much weight during the holidays. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, most people only gain between 0.4 to 1.8 pounds of weight per year. The majority of the weight gain, approximately 0.8 pounds, occurs during the six weeks between the US Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Participants who were already overweight were found to gain up to 5 pounds during this same time period compared to their normal weight counterparts. At the end of the study, the average weight gain for the year was 1.4 pounds per participant.

In many ways, the results of the study were good news. A pound and a half of weight per year is certainly not very much weight. Taken by itself, that’s true –- it’s not such a big deal so why should I worry? Why not just go out and enjoy the holidays if all I have to worry about is a pound and a half a year?

Why should you worry? Because the point was that the participants didn’t lose that extra 1.4 pounds of weight -- they carried it forward to the next year. While there are some things that are good to carry over and keep, extra weight isn’t one of them. Extra weight is a major risk factor for heart disease. No matter how miniscule the weight gain, each added pound puts an additional strain on your heart and increases your risk factor for developing heart disease.

Imagine for a moment that you are a healthy 20 year old, 5 foot 2 inches tall, with a weight of 120 pounds.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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