Combating “middle age spread” may come down to small and sometimes surprising daily dietary and lifestyle decisions, according to a new research analysis published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study confirms what many have suspected: the diet that’s good for your heart is also good for your waistline.
The data suggest that maintaining weight might require more than just - as the article authors express it - “eat less and exercise more.” The types of food you eat count as well.
Weight gain was associated with eating:
· potato chips
· sugar-sweetened beverages
· unprocessed red meats
· processed meats
Meanwhile, weight loss was linked to eating:
· whole grains
Also associated with incremental weight gain over time were various lifestyle factors, such as:
· sleeping less or more than 6 to 8 hours a night,
· increased alcohol consumption,
· decreasing or maintaining (rather than increasing) exercise levels,
· increasing television viewing time, and
· quitting smoking
While on average participants in the studies included in the analysis gained only 0.8 lb. per year, this gradual weight gain added up over time to 8 pounds per decade and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems.
The article analyzed long-term data from over 120,000 women and men in the United States who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).
The findings in the article support the same dietary guidelines that are recommended to prevent heart disease. The article, as with all studies, is one analysis only and the findings will require further research. Additionally, the analysis examines factors that contribute to maintaining weight over time and not factors necessary for weight loss in those who are already overweight.
A preview of the analysis is available through the New England Journal of Medicine website. For more information about a heart-healthy diet that may also help you keep the pounds from creeping on, visit SecondsCount.org’s guide to Heart-Healthy Nutrition.