How what you eat impacts your weight

June 22, 2011 3:00:30 PM PDT
Putting on the pounds over the years sometimes seems to happen without our even noticing. But researchers at Harvard "have" noticed and their study published today shows us which foods help us add the pounds and, perhaps more importantly, which foods don't.

The study followed some 121-thousand people, associating their weight gain and the foods they ate.

It's no surprise that pounds seem to creep into our bodies over the years. As a matter of fact, most average adults add on about a pound a year. That can mean that as years add up, so do the pounds.

"People gain gradually, about a pound a year, but after 10 years, it's 10 pounds. After 20 years, you're talking about a lot of weight gain," Dr. Keith Ayoob at the Einstein College of Medicine said.

Harvard researchers looked at the most common food eaten by the people who gained the most weight over a 20 year period.

The five foods adding the most pounds were:

  • Potato chips
  • Potatoes
  • Sugary drinks (soda)
  • Red meat
  • Processed meats like hot dogs and bologna

    People who did not gain as much over the 20 year period also are some specific foods:

  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt

    Not surprisingly, engaging in physical activity also made a difference in how much weight one "did not" add on through the years.

    For Dr. Keith Ayoob at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, the study can be a guide to weight control through healthy choices of food.

    "It certainly is likelier to gain weight as we get older, but you want to minimize it, which is possible. And you can do that if you're able to maintain a physically active lifestyle and eat a healthier diet," added Dr. Ayoob.

    Even making a small change, like cutting out sugary drinks, can make a difference.

    "That's one of the easiest things to do and this research show that sugary beverages contribute to weight gain," Dr. Laura Jeffers, R.D. at Cleveland Clinic said.

    And that's a 'weight' to start. Cut out some of those foods that tend to put on pounds, add on some of those that don't, and get that physical activity into your life, if possible on a daily basis. No matter how low or little it is, everything is a start.

    The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.