Combating “middle age spread” may come down to small and sometimes surprising daily dietary and lifestyle decisions, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study confirms what many have suspected: the diet that’s good for your heart is also good for your waistline.
The data suggest that maintaining weight might requires more than just, as the article authors say, “Eat less and exercise more.” The types of food you eat count as well.
Weight gain was associated with eating potato chips, potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats and processed meats.
Weight loss was linked with eating vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt.
Also associated with incremental weight gain over time were a number of lifestyle factors, such as -
- Sleeping less or more than 6 to 8 hours a night,
- Increased alcohol consumption,
- Decreasing or maintaining (rather than increasing) exercise levels,
- Increasing television viewing time, and
- Quitting smoking
While on average participants in the studies included in the analysis gained only a little less than 1 pound per year, this gradual weight gain added up over time, resulting in 8 pounds gained per decade and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other health problems.
The article analyzed long-term data from more than 120,000 women and men in the United States who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).
The findings in the article support the same dietary guidelines that are recommended to prevent heart disease. The article, as with all studies, is one analysis only, and the findings require further research. In addition, the analysis examines factors that contribute to maintaining weight over time and not factors necessary for weight loss in those who are already overweight.