What’s making you fat? | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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What’s making you fat?

Just a few bad habits - watching TV, eating potato chips, having a sugary soda at lunch or staying up too late at night - can lead to a steady creep of kgs over the years. This was revealed by a new study on diet.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 01, 2011 01:16 IST

Just a few bad habits —watching TV, eating potato chips, having a sugary soda at lunch or staying up too late at night — can lead to a steady creep of kgs over the years. This was revealed by a new study on diet.

While most studies on diet focus on changes needed to help obese people lose weight, the study by the Harvard team showed that tiny changes in diet and lifestyle can make a big impact. The study focuses on specific lifestyle choices — foods, activity, sleep habits — that slowly pack on the kilos.

Fat womanThe researchers stressed that the quality of food choices, and not just calories, are key to maintaining a healthy weight. "These small choices add up," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health. The weight gain is so gradual and occurs over many years, it has been difficult for scientists to understand the specific factors that may be responsible .

The team analysed data on 120,877 women and men in the US, and tracked changes in lifestyle factors and weight every four years over a 20-year period. All study participants were normal weight and healthy when they started. Over time, they gained an average of 1.59 kg during each 4-year period for a total average weight gain of 7.6 kg at the end of the 20-year study.

Foods that added most to weight gain over a four-year period included daily consumption of potato chips potatoes, sugar-sweetened beverages, unprocessed red meats and processed meats. More than a third of adults and nearly 17 percent of children are obese, increasing their chances of developing health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.

Food facts for lifelong fitness

Understanding ways to keep people from becoming obese may be more effective than getting people to lose weight.

If you increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and have a relative weight loss, it is because you are replacing other foods in the diet.

The study contradicts that all foods eaten in moderation are good for you.