Is Christmas pudding your health at risk? Curb Christmas overindulgence

Is Christmas pudding your health at risk? Curb Christmas overindulgence
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The festive period is a high-risk time for overeating. The British Medical Journal has published its suggestions for curbing Christmas overindulgence.

The British Medical Journal recommends monitoring your weight and using other strategies during the Christmas period to help you to curb Christmas overindulgence.

The tips include encouraging people to weigh themselves regularly over the holiday period and providing information on the amount of physical activity needed to burn off popular food and drink consumed during the festive period.

Weight gain prevention intervention to avoid Christmas overindulgence

Researchers at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research and the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University tested whether weight gain prevention intervention was effective in preventing Christmas overindulgence.

They recruited 272 adults with a range of BMI categories before Christmas in 2016 and 2017. They conducted baseline assessments in November with follow up assessments in January.

Participants were mostly female (78%) and of white ethnicity (78%). Average age was 44 years and 24% were from areas of higher deprivation. The average length of time in the study was 45 days. These participants were randomly divided into two groups, with the intervention group encourage to record and reflect on their weight at least two times per week.

The intervention group also received tips on managing their weight and they were given a list of physical activity calorie equivalents of popular festive foods and drinks.

How many calories are in your festive treats?

Some of the examples of physical activity calorie equivalents that the intervention group were given are:

  • 21 minutes of running to burn off a mince pie; and
  • 33 minutes of walking for a glass of mulled wine.

The control group received a healthy living leaflet with no dietary advice.

On average, the participants in the comparison group gained weight over Christmas but participants in the intervention group did not. Although the difference in weight was marginally smaller than expected, the researchers say that it is still important as any weight gain prevented will have a positive impact on health outcomes.

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