Study Finds Holiday Weight Gain From October to January Is a Global Struggle

With Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, the abundance of food and the potential to gain weight a little too easily is probably on a lot of people’s minds. Combine that with colder, more unpredictable weather and it’s the perfect excuse to trade an active outdoor lifestyle in for the warmth of an indoor environment — making it all even easier to gain weight, of course.

It isn’t big news to hear that weight gain during the fall months is a struggle for people living in the U.S., but an interesting new study found that weight gain this time of year proves to be a global problem for populations in other parts of the world — even ones that aren’t big celebrators of major holidays like Christmas. Still, the holidays are linked to weight gain regardless of what time of year they occur, but the fall — specifically October to January — seems to be the peak time of year most people pack on a few extra pounds.

For the study, researchers tracked the weight of nearly 3,000 people in three countries of all different continents. They included Germany, Japan and the U.S.

The subjects were instructed to use digital scales to weigh themselves, which automatically transferred every weigh-in number to a smartphone tracking app. This ensured accurate weigh-ins by preventing subjects from putting down a different number if they were to track their weigh-ins manually and happened to dislike the number that showed up some days.

Amazingly, not a single subject was able to lose or even maintain their weight from October to January — everyone was heavier than when they began. Americans increased their weight by 0.4 percent by January but Germans took the lead, showing an increase of 0.7 percent in weight. The holidays in Japan aren’t what they’re like in the West, but the Japanese still managed to see an increase in weight by 0.2 percent by January. Japan’s “Golden Week” holiday showed a larger increase in weight among the Japanese at 0.4 percent, which occurs in May.

The researchers found that weight started creeping up the week before major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, showing the effects of all those pre-celebratory parties and other festivities leading up to the big holiday. Subjects lost about half of the weight immediately after major holidays, but the other half stuck around until the summer or even later than that.

Despite seeing that some weight was lost, researchers pointed out that this group of subjects may have been particularly more motivated to lose weight because the regular weigh-ins and automatic tracking made them so much more aware of their weight gain than the average American, German or Japanese individual. So this study may not accurately affect how the majority of American, German and Japanese people lose weight after gaining it in the fall or around the holidays, because not everyone is so aware of how much the little fluctuations eventually add up over a long period of time.

Given that October proved to be the least heavy month for all subjects involved, the researchers suggest taking this as a sign to start a healthy diet and fitness plan now rather than waiting until the New Year. Instead of trying to just resist all those fall and holiday goodies or skip all the fun festivities, which is no fun at all, turn your focus to getting really good at planning ahead and being super mindful of what you’re eating.

Eat healthy foods that you love, plan for guilty pleasures and balance it all with physical activity that you enjoy doing. Check out these 7 creative ways to stay active during the fall season and these 5 tips to avoid falling into an autumnal funk so you can stay consistent.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B2 years ago

We aren't related.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B2 years ago

Annabelle is right.

Peggy B.
Peggy B2 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 2 years ago

It's not what we eat to blame - keep a healthy lifestyle

Maureen King
Maureen King2 years ago

It always amazes me that people seem to eat more at Christmas, New Year and Easter.(we don't have thanksgiving). Don't know why.Stomachs can only hold a certain amount.I am mindful all year of what I eat.
I do get it that one of the advantages of living here and our Christmas being in Summer, is that, because of the hot weather, people are actually eating less, eating fruits and salad.Spending time outdoors,swimming and being active.
I think its also just a fact that here in Winter we, like you, put on weight ,for exactly the same reasons.

Tania N.
Tania N2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Margie FOURIE2 years ago

If you eat what you do all year, why blame it on the season?

Ron B.
Ron B2 years ago

So much food. So little time.