Most studies try to tell us what we should be eating or doing. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed top habits that rack up the pounds. See if the top “bad” habits are some of your own.Understanding Bad HabitsThe obesity epidemic is costing us our health and money. More than one-third of adults and close to one-fifth of kids in the U.S. are obese. These folks are at a much higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and certain forms of cancer. It’s estimated that it costs the U.S. nearly 10 percent of its medical spending to treat these diseases – that’s equivalent to $147 billion a year!
Top Bad HabitsThe study examined ways to prevent obesity before it starts. Researchers followed over 120,000 men and women for 20 years. These folks started at a healthy weight. Their habits (specifically foods, activity, and sleep) and weight were tracked every 4 years. Here are the top habits that caused weight gain:
- Food: Eating potato chips, potatoes, sugary drinks, unprocessed red meat (like steak), and processed meat (like deli meats) every day caused the most weight gain.
- Activity: Watching an hour of TV per day racked up one-third of a pound over 4 years.
- Sleep: Folks who got less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours of sleep a night were more likely to gain weight.
- Food: Eating minimally processed foods and more fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains resulted in either weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight during the study.
- Activity: Increasing physical activity resulted in less weight gain.
- Sleep: Folks who slept between 6 to 8 hours of sleep were less likely to gain weight.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »