THE QUESTION Most people, even those trying to diet, tend to gain a little on the weekend. How might this affect efforts to lose and keep off weight?
THIS STUDY analyzed data on 80 men and women who averaged 45 years old and were overweight but not obese. They weighed themselves daily before breakfast for, on average, nearly three months. During any given week, participants’ weight fluctuated, going up some days, including weekends for nearly everyone, and down on other days. However, by the end of the study span, those who had lost weight (defined as more than 3 percent of their starting weight) had done so by countering their weekend weight gains with weekday losses. For example, they weighed the most at the end of a weekend (Sunday and Monday), but they lost weight each subsequent weekday and weighed the least on Fridays. People who weighed the same at the start and end of the study followed a similar pattern. However, those whose weight had increased by the end of the study did not follow this pattern; instead, after gaining on the weekends, they did not lose weight as the week wore on, with their weight continuing to fluctuate on weekdays.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Anyone trying to lose weight. About 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, as are nearly 20 percent of school-age youths. Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or higher indicates obesity. BMI is a calculation based on whether weight and height are in proportion. Being overweight or obese increases risk for a variety of diseases and health problems.
CAVEATS Data on weight came from the participants’ recordings. The study was relatively short-lived and fairly small.
FIND THIS STUDY Jan. 31 online issue of Obesity Facts/The European Journal of Obesity.
The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.