Saturday can be the worst enemy for our waistlines, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
They found that study subjects on strict diet and exercise programs tend to lose weight more slowly than expected because they eat more on weekends than during the week. The investigators report their findings in the advance online publication of the journal Obesity.
Past research had confirmed that people tend to gain weight during the holidays, particularly between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but this is the first study to carefully monitor daily body weight, calorie intake and calorie expenditure for several weeks throughout a year, and to demonstrate that increased caloric intake isn't just a problem during the holidays. It also happens on most weekends.
"We thought weekends would present a problem for some people attempting to lose weight, but the consistency of our finding before and during the interventions was surprising," says first author Susan B. Racette, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy and of medicine. "Subjects in the diet group lost weight during the week, but over the weekend, they stopped losing weight because they were eating more."
Racette's team followed 48 adults between the ages of 50 and 60 who took part in the CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) study. Body mass index (BMI) ranked subjects as overweight or healthy weight when the study began. None were classified as obese.
Following earlier studies demonstrating that mice and rats live longer, healthier lives when on a calorie restricted diet, the CALERIE study is designed to determine whether taking in fewer calories over a long time period will slow down or reverse some of the common markers of aging and disease.
"But rats don't have weekends the way people do," Racette says. "On weekends, human lifestyle patterns can be very diff
|Contact: Jim Dryden|
Washington University School of Medicine