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Researchers Discover Factors That Contribute To Weight Gain

July 11, 2011 by  

Studies point to lifestyle and food as reasons for weight gainThe Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) conducted three separate studies and found that modest lifestyle and diet changes can lead to long-term weight gain. Prior studies have focused on weight loss after a person has already become obese, but this study aimed to determine what factors contribute to long-term weight gain.

The researchers monitored changes in multiple lifestyle factors and weight gain every four years over 12 to 20 years of three groups, the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

They found that on average each participant gained 3.35 pounds in each three-year period. The foods associated with the highest amount of weight gain over the 20-year period were potato chips, (one increased daily serving equaled an extra pound and a half of weight gained in the 4-year period), other potato products, sugary drinks and meat.

They also found that sleep, television watching and lack of physical activity all contributed to weight gain. The National Institute of Health reports that almost 40 percent of Americans are overweight.

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  • Dan az

    As apposed to what?I found threw my own studies that getting old has everything to do with weight gain.All I eat is one meal a day and its chineese food.Ya don’t see to many fat chineese around.So to say that these Haaavard types see us all eating junk food and causing the fat I would tell them just put on some years and come back and tell me how that worked out for ya.When I was in my 20′s I could sit down and eat a 5 lb box of chocolates and loose 5 lbs,but today I can eat veggies and gain 5 lbs.Life’s full of mysteries but one sure thing is the guy that said this is our golden years can stick it where the sun don’t shine. :)

    • TIME

      Your dead on. Its a simple equation, as we age our BMR changes so we stop burning up the foods we eat at the same rate as when we were younger than 30 years of age.

      The only things you can do to stop such gains is really quite simple, walk every day at least 3 – 5 miles, thats only one part. The second part is cut back on what you eat, such as if when you were 20 you could eat a 1/2 pound of meat cut that back to 1/4 pound eat more fresh foods like apples, oranges, as snacks but again you don’t need ten per day keep it real at a perhaps 2.
      Eat more fresh veggies, less breads, less cheese, less meat.

    • Karolyn

      Dan – One meal a day is not good for you. Do you keep your energy level up that way? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The best way to eat is to have many small meals throughout the day, like every 3 hours. However, I do get what you’re saying about Chinese food. Lots of steamed and quick-fried veggies. Just stay away from the MSG. I used to go to a Chinese buffet that had brown rice. The Chinese places around here don’t have it.

      • Dan az

        You have a good point but That’s pretty much what it is know.I used to be 6-1 and now I’m 5-10 I used to rock climb every week end and never thought anything about hiking 10 or 20 miles to the top of a 12 ft mountain and run down.But today I’m lucky to make it to the computer because of the arthritus.I weigh in at 190 lbs and that’s about 20 more than I can carry around now and the amount of intake is less than a bird good survive on.The meat is now only in soups that my wife makes as chineese food because of her diet do to chrones disease.She is far better of a cook than any chinesse resteraunt that I’ve been in even in china,so I’m not complaining but no matter what, the spare tire never seems to go away.At one time I’m still in a size 32 pants because I never had a butt.And karolyn she never uses MSG only Fresh stuff I just wished she would patten what she makes because you could eat it even for breakfast its that good.The fact that I don’t eat three squares is because I just can’t and as for amounts trust me the birds would be walking because of the lack of food intake.Never less the spare remains and I don’t give a damn what people think anymore, gravity is not kind to us.

        • granny mae

          Dan az,

          I’m with you on gravity ! LOL ! I too don’t give a damn what people think anymore, as a matter of fact I don’t think I ever gave a rats what anybody thought because most times their thoughts are wrong! I spent my early years (until I was about13) being so skinny that people made such fun of me there were times I thought I would just die, then I turned 13 and all hell broke loose ! In one summer I went from being extremely underweight to being pleasingly plump so they said ! From there on it was a down hill run! I seemed to be tired all the time and just had no energy to do the things that the other kids did. I would force myself to get up and move but boy it was a struggle. Then I noticed I would have bursts of energy that would suddenly come on me and it always seemed to be at night time ! What the heck was going on ? Finally when I was 22 I got to the point where I would get out of bed in the morning and walk to the livingroom and sit down on the couch and fall asleep again. I could sleep forever it seemed ! I went to the doctor and he ran tests on me and they just never came out the way they were supposed to so he said there was something wrong with the test or the machine. This went on for a couple more years and I switched doctors and had more tests run and low and behold it turned out that I had a thyroid problem. Doctor said I would have to take this little pill for the rest of my life. Well we moved and when it came time to get the little pills refilled I had to go to a new doctor. New doctors won’t take the word of another doctor so the new doctor wanted to run his own tests. They came back that everything was fine. (Of course they would come out that way I was on the medication) so he wouldn’t renew my script ! Well needless to say I went without the pills for many years and gained a lot of weight even though I was working and not at a sit down job either. I did a lot of moving and walking and standing and lifting and packing and so on for 8 and 10 hours a day. I was on one diet after another. If there was a diet developed out there I tried it and some I made up on my own, all with no result. The most I could ever loose was 10 lbs and that was water ! Finally I just gave up and said the heck with it ! About 5 years ago I got so bad I just couldn’t get myself up out of the chair for anything ! People would say well, you just have to force yourself ! Little did they know I had been forcing myself to move all my life ! Finally I went to the doctor and insisted they run some tests. This time they came back that my thyroid was almost inactive. I wondered what that lump in my throat was ! The doctor put me on thyroid again and this time for two months I had to take double the dose. By the end of two months I was able to move again and felt like I was alive once more. Still got the weight because I can’t exercise any more as I can’t get up on my feet but at this point in time I don’t care ! I feel a lot better and that is good enough for me ! So as far as I’m concerned they can study all they want and tell us we are fat because we don’t eat enough or we eat too much or we don’t eat at the right time and so on. I firmly believe there are numerous reasons for being fat and not all of them effect all of us! I don’t eat junk food mainly because I don’t think to buy it! I wasn’t raised on it so I don’t think about it but my husband is a junk food addict ! He will go to the store and get himself chips and pies and cakes (I don’t bake either ) and candy and cookies and he takes them all into his computer room and chows down ! That man is as skinny as a rail ! He has always been skinny, and he eats like a horse ! But then again he never sits still. He is always on the go. Today he is on the go only a lot slower than he was years ago, but he has not gained weight in his old age like the rest of us do. So there are no two people alike and some are bound to be skinny and some of us will be fat ! I eat a light breakfast in the morning and then a small dinner in the evening and that is it! I have just decided to be happy with things the way they are and I refuse to worry about it !

    • wandamurline

      Geesh, it took them 20 years to figure this out…that potatoe chips high in fat and salt and sugar caused someone to gain weight especially when they sat on their butts with no exercise? Amazing how intelligent our scientists are.

    • Jane


  • s c

    I don’t know what the big deal is. Herr Obummer’s wife has everything sewed up neat and tidy. She has all the answers, and if anything goes wrong, we can rush down to the nearest MD and get “fixed.”
    So, suck down that pop. Cram down those twinkies. Eat, drink and merry. If you don’t spend, you’ll put someone out of a job. Who are we to try and be better than our neighbors?
    We owe it to each other to be less than well. It’s good for the economy, and since we’re all cogs in a big wheel, we might as well act the part. So who wants a super-sized barrel of pop? I’m buying.

  • Ellen

    I’m going to make a wild guess here and say that the govt funded these useless studies. We have known for generations that our metabolism slows as we age and we must cut calorie intake and have some physical activity. No matter what, we all gain weight. The thing they never want to publish is the effect on our bodies from the crap in our food. Trans fats have been in nearly every processed food for 20 years now and people are just starting to publish that they are a problem. Harvard published a study several years ago saying that 1/2 of all heart disease would be eliminated by just taking trans fats out of our food. Yet, they’re still in there. Where is the American Heart Assoc.? They should be leading the charge to get rid of them. Instead, they keep collecting donations and pretending to look for cures.

  • Karolyn

    Duh! Geez! These studies are such a waste of money! Common sense is all that’s needed.

  • dan

    That walking everyday makes ALL of the difference…and man,that’s what I miss the most after having done it for over 50 years.Now I’m packing it on while eating less,too. Try to keep your muscle mass up,DanAZ,
    even if you’re reduced to isometrics in front of the computer.Try your main meal in the morning for breakfast…and do snack (a handful of
    almonds and cranberries is one of my current favorites) on apples
    or in season fruit.We are all fighting a losing battle,but who wants to live forever ,anyway….I hear that in heaven we get our 33 year-old
    bodies back :0

    • Jane


  • Sally

    If I could offer a suggestion. I believe he reason our bodies slow down is because our metabolism slows down. The idea is to work with your metabolism. Diet & exercise are always the first things suggested as it is necessary, and it helps to keep our metabolism’s primed. But what is not told to people is this. There are certain foods we can eat that also boosts our metabolism. When my thyroid went south and was finally diagnosed (after 70 lbs. of weight gain) and 7 years later, I was put on thyroid medication. My thyroid medication was at .125 mg. and within 2 years I was taking .175 mg. It was just progressively getting worse. I asked myself, is there anything I can do to stop this progressive, downhill slide and help my metabolism? #1: After bloodwork (again), my NEW doctor found that I was pre-diabetic ((in my case, not a sugar problem but a carbs (turns to sugar) problem)). I switched to a pre-diabetic diet and started reading everything I could on metabolism! I found that coconut is excellent for the metabolism in small, daily doses. Any more than 3 TBLS. a day and it becomes fattening. It’s also good for your heart :-) At the health food store I bought hardened coconut oil (it can be used for frying too) and spread 1 TBLS. a day on the sandwich I have at lunch time. Within 1-2 months, one day I actually felt my “sluggish” metabolism kick in! I inherently knew that it was from the coconut. 4 months into my new way of eating (I’ve never dieted), and 12 supplements a day later, I have lost 40 lbs! I highly recommend exactly what I just wrote! But the pre-diabetic diet is not available online without a fee — At least I can’t find it.


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