Overeating for just four weeks can cause changes in body fat composition that last for years, Swedish researchers have found. The study serves as a warning that even brief periods of increased food consumption should be avoided.
Swedish researchers recruited 18 healthy, young adults who had normal body weights for the study. The participants were instructed to limit their physical activity to 5,000 steps a day or less. They were also told to increase their caloric intake by 70 per cent for four weeks. The researchers then compared this group with a control group — a similar group of young adults who did not change their diet or physical activity. The groups’ body weight and composition were examined periodically for two years.
The gluttony group weeks gained an average of 14 pounds. At the one-year mark, this group was an average of 3.3 pounds heavier than before their four-week binge, while there was no change in the body weight of the control group. The binge group also had an increased fat mass and higher LDL cholesterol levels one year after their four-week binge; the control group did not experience those changes. After two years, the binge group had continued to gain weight while weights in the control group were stable.