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A moment on the lips, a year on the hips

Aug. 24, 2010
Courtesy of BioMed Central
and World Science staff

Just a few weeks of over­eat­ing may af­fect your weight and fat stor­age years lat­er—even if you lost the weight you in­i­tially added, sci­en­tists are re­port­ing.

A study pub­lished in the re­search jour­nal Nu­tri­tion & Me­tab­o­lism found that a four-week ep­i­sode of in­creased en­er­gy in­take and de­creased ex­er­cise can cause high­er weight and fat mass more than two years lat­er.

The re­search­ers, Åsa Ern­ers­son and col­leagues at Linköping Uni­vers­ity in Swe­den, stud­ied 18 peo­ple who agreed to cap their phys­i­cal ac­ti­vity and to eat in ex­cess. The group in­creased their en­er­gy in­take by an av­er­age of 70 per­cent for a month.

A sep­a­ra­te con­trol group ate and ex­er­cised as nor­mal.

The over­eat­ing group gained an av­er­age of 6.4 kg (14 lb.) which was mostly lost with­in six months. Yet a year lat­er, they still showed an in­creased fat mass, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors said; the dif­fer­ences were even grea­ter af­ter two and a half years. 

The study sug­gests a short pe­ri­od of glut­tony and lim­it­ed ex­er­cise may change your phys­i­ol­o­gy, caus­ing it to be harder to lose and keep off weight, Emers­son said. “The long-term dif­fer­ence in body weight in the in­ter­ven­tion and con­trol groups sug­gests that there is an ex­tend­ed ef­fect on fat mass af­ter a short pe­ri­od of large food con­sump­tion and min­i­mal ex­er­cise.”


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Even a few weeks of overeating may affect your weight and fat storage years later—even if you lost the initial weight you put on, scientists are reporting. A study published in the research journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that a four-week episode of increased energy intake and decreased exercise can cause higher weight and fat mass more than two years later. The researchers, Åsa Ernersson and colleagues at Linköping University in Sweden, studied 18 people who volunteered to cap their physical activity and eat in excess. The group increased their energy intake by an average of 70% for a month. A separate control group ate and exercised as normal. The overeating group gained an average of 6.4 kg (14 lb.) which was mostly lost within six months. Yet a year later, they still showed an increased fat mass, the investigators said; the differences were even greater after two and a half years. The study suggests a short period of gluttony and limited exercise may change your physiology, causing it to be harder to lose and keep off weight, Emersson said. “The long-term difference in body weight in the intervention and control groups suggests that there is an extended effect on fat mass after a short period of large food consumption and minimal exercise,” Ernersson added.