Weight Gain Study

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Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 10:05am

A new study identifies what's causing America's overall weight gain.

Americans gain about a pound a year. It's a gradual change that's difficult to notice until you look back at pictures from your college graduation and realize you're 20 pounds heavier!

A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health finds certain foods may be to blame but it's really the overall quality of your diet that matters.

For many Americans, stepping on the scale can be a shock but racking your brain to figure out what made the scale spike likely won't do you any good.

Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health says "there's no one single villain, or one single solution to weight gain. it's really due to multiple combinations in the diet."

Dr. Walter Willett at Harvard School of Public Health studied the weight and lifestyle habits of 120,000 men and women over two decades. He found certain foods caused the most weight gain over time: potato chips, processed meat and sugary drinks were among the top offenders.

Dr. Willett says "serving for serving chips had a higher weight gain but the problem is many people consume 2 or 3 or more servings of soda a day, almost every day."

Dr. Willett says these foods are turned over quickly in the body meaning you're hungry again in a hour versus high-fiber foods like vegetables and nuts.

Dr. Willett says "that keeps stomach fuller for a longer time and that makes us less hungry 1 or 2-3 hours down road."

People who ate the most vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt gained the least amount of weight. So experts suggest, instead of counting calories or carbs, focus on content.

Dr. Willett says "the quality of the diet can make a big difference in our long term ability to control our weight."

And that has a big impact on our long-term health. The study also found people who exercised, got six to eight hours of sleep a night, and watched little TV weighed the least.
 

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