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Holidays Aren't Merry for Overweight Kids and Adults

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  December 6, 2011 11:27 AM

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Tis the season.

Research suggests that the holidays  may be challenging for both the young and old who are not at their optimal weight.   A study of 90 children (average age was about 9 years old), showed that those who entered the holidays being overweight were at a higher risk for an unhealthy weight gain during this festive time of the year.

Interestingly, while all the children in this study gained weight, those youngsters who were at a healthy weight prior to the holidays gained the appropriate amount of weight in proportion to their growth during this time period.   The overweight children weren't so fortunate.  These kiddies gained a disproportionate or an excessive amount of weight compared to their expected growth during the December to January holiday period, causing an unhealthy increase in their weight. 

The same dilemma occurs for adults.  While a research study of about 200 individuals suggests that adults, on average, gain only about a pound during the holidays, those in this study who were overweight prior to the holiday season had the most weight gain -- at least 5 pounds.

If you and/or your family are at risk for unhealthy weight gain during the holidays, you may want to consider trimming some holiday traditions as a way to trim some potential family weight gain this season. 

Here are some tips:

1.  Bake Less. Cut all of your cookie recipes in half.  While you still will be baking all of the family favorites, there will be less around in the cookie tin to munch on.  When they are gone, they're gone.  Don't bake additional batches again until next year.

2.  Don't Give Sweet and Treats as Gifts.  Forget about hanging candy canes on the tree or gifting  gourmet chocolates in their stockings.  Instead, give active gifts such as tickets to an ice or roller skating rink or a nearby ski slope.

3.  Desert Your Traditional Desserts.  Say goodbye to the creamy yuletide log and let the family have some sweet fun with a fruit fondue.  Spear chunks of fresh fruit through a wooden kabob and let the family have a ball dipping them into a small amount of melted chocolate. Toss any leftover chocolate but purposely make extra kabobs for a healthy snack the next day -- sans the chocolate.

Do you have any healthy holiday dessert ideas?  Please share below.
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Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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