Fitness Tips


Research shows that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese (Ogden et al 2014), a health condition associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and various cancers (Malik, Schultz & Hu 2006).  Furthermore, studies find that Amercians tend to gain weight slowly over time after age 50-adding approximately 1 pound per year (Mozaffarian et al. 2011)  Understanding the specific behaviors  that increase the risk of weight gain is essential to helping clients manage their weight.


1.  Eating High-Calorie Foods on a regular basis consisting of potato chips, potatoes, red meat, processed meats, butter, sweets, desserts and refined grains will contribute to weight gain.  Foods that help with weight management include nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cheese and milk appeared to curb weight gain (Mozaffarian et al. 2011) because these foods have slower digestion rates and enhance satiety.

2.  Consuming Sugar Sweetened Beverages can contribute to weight gain because they have little nutritional benefit and are reportedly the greatest provider of kilocalories in the American diet (Dennis et al. 2009).  A study by DiMeglio & Mattes 2000 found that people who drank SSBs gained significantly more weight than they did when consuming a comparable amount of carbohydrate in solid form. 

3.  Too Little (or Too Much) Sleep as several epidemiological studies suggest that weight gain is influenced by sleeping less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours per night (Marshall, Glozier & Grunstein 2008).  People who sleep too little develop chronically impaired glucose metabolism, steadily contributing to obesity.  In addition, sleep deprivation significantly lowers circulating levels of the hormore leptin and increases circulating levels of the hormone ghrelin-both effects that promote food intake (Van Cauter et al. 2008).  Ideally, sleeping 7-8 hours each night complements a successful weight management program. 

4.  Quantity of TV Watching especially in young people (Chapman et al. 2012) for more than 2 hours per day is highly correlated with weight gain because these people tend to snack more while watching TV; have higher overall caloric intake of foods; and consume more energy dense foods.  Other evidence indicates that visual images of palatable food (as regularly seen in food commercials) evoke increases in plasma ghrelin concentrations, thus boosting the hunger/eating response. 

5.  Alcohol Consumption is a risk factor because alcohol is very energy dense-at 7 kcal per gram, it is second only to fat, with 9 kcal per gram.  Alcohol consumed before or with meals tends to increase food intake, probably enhancing the short-term rewarding effects of food.  Some epidemiological data suggests that alcohol in moderation can protect against obesity, specifically in women. 

6.  Inactivity is what defines nearly half of all Americans. The recommended volume of exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity and only 51.6% get that amount and even worse only 29.3% do muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week (CDC 2011).

These six factors are clear indicators of an "obesogenic" lifestyle and should be the targets of any behavior-change plan designed to prevent weight gain.  Psychological stress accompanying these behaviors may exacerbate weight gain (Montes & Kravitz 2011).

Source: IDEA Fitness Journal May 2015 By Troy Purdom, MS, and Len Kravitz, PHD

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