A moment on the lips, forever on the hips

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: January 27th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most of us have done it at one time or another. We give ourselves license to eat as much as we want over the holidays or during a vacation. Or we chow down to help us manage a time of stress, with the intention of losing the extra weight as soon as our little free-for-all is over. It seems harmless, doesn’t it?

Wrong, says a group of Swedish scientists. Overeating for as little as four weeks can have a lasting effect on body fat composition, according to a new study.

Swedish researchers recruited young adults who were all of a healthy weight. The participants were told to decrease their activity to no more than five-thousand steps per day… the amount considered to be a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, they were told to increase their caloric intake by seventy percent for four weeks. Most achieved this by eating two fast food meals a day. The scientists monitored this group for about the next two years and compared them with a control group of similar young adults who did not change their eating habits or physical activity.

Not surprisingly, the people who agreed to the binge gained an average of fourteen pounds. But the shocking part was how hard it was for these participants to shed the weight. After six months, only one-third had returned to within one pound of their original weight. At one year, the gluttony group was still an average of three point three pounds heavier than before their binge. Even after two and a half years, these participants continued to gain weight, while the control group stayed stable.

The moral of this story? Think twice before pigging out. An occasional splurge may be okay, but an extended binge may be more of a burden than it’s worth.