A new four-year study from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard Schools of Medicine and Public Health has identified some specific foods and food types that are more responsible for the excess weight we gain than are most others. This prospective, longitudinal study was published in the June 23 New England Journal of Medicine.
Over the four years of the study, participants put on an average of about 0.8 pounds per year, or 3.2 pounds over the entire study. Perhaps a gain of 0.8 pounds per year doesn't seem like too severe a problem, but over 20 years' time, it's going to swell up to 16 pounds--potentially enough to contribute to becoming overweight and to health challenges such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The No. 1 weight-gain perpetrator
Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers discovered that the food most strongly linked with the participants' gains in weight was the humble potato chip. Yep, this mild-mannered but ubiquitous snack food was responsible for about one-half of the 3.2 pounds that the average study subject put on over the four-year period.
Some other consumable culprits
Overall, if eaten in large quantities, potatoes themselves were responsible for 1.28 pounds of an average participant's 3.2-pound weight gain. Likewise, these three other food categories were each believed to also be responsible for packing on an additional pound of weight during the study:
Behaviors can put on weight too
The study also mentioned several other factors besides diet that were involved in gaining weight, including
On the flip side
During the four-year study, the researchers also identified some foods that were significantly linked with weight loss, with yogurt at the top of this "good" list. All of these values in pounds signify the weight lost from averaging one serving of a particular "good" food per day over the four-year span. All values were statistically significant (P <0.005).
Including more of these foods in your diet over time might not result in dramatic weight loss, but may, in the long run, result in slimming of the waistline and decreasing your risk for the significant diseases mentioned above.
Other things associated with weight loss
Regular physical activity was linked with a 1.76-pound loss of weight over the four-year study period. No surprise, therefore, that exercising, as well as stopping smoking and cutting back on TV and alcohol also appeared to be important in keeping the weight off.
My take on this study
To your health, dear readers!