Statistics from the CDC show that over one-third of adults in the US are obese, while nearly 70% are overweight. Discussions about weight loss often focus on issues like calories or the best types of food choices. Are we eating too many calories, getting too much fat, too many carbs or not enough protein? What type of diet is best? Is it vegan, paleo? As critical as these considerations are, a holistic approach to weight loss also recognizes the importance of many lifestyle choices that can have a profound impact on success, including issues as varied as where you stash your snacks and how long you sleep.
Out of sight, out of mind?
Removing temptation from easy reach is surprisingly effective.
A study at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that moving candy just a few feet away from a worker’s desk reduced consumption significantly. Researchers counted the number of candy kisses eaten by office workers when they sat in a bowl on the person’s desk. They then moved the bowl just six feet away. Results showed that moving the candy that short distance resulted in a 48% decrease in consumption. Even putting the candy in a desk drawer reduced consumption 25%. These outcomes suggest that visibility and convenience can be important variables influencing the quantity of food we eat.
You may have seen the research showing a connection between sleep and weight gain, but did you know that keeping a regular sleep schedule is also important?
A recent study of university women between the ages of 17 and 26 compared body composition and wake and sleep times. Results showed that a consistent sleep schedule, and especially a regular wake up time, corresponded to lower body fat. Women whose wake and sleep times varied more than 90 minutes had more body fat than did those who experienced variations less than 60 minutes. Other variables predicting more body fat included poor sleep quality and sleeping less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours per night.
Too much sitting is associated with a number of adverse health outcomes including weight gain. A recent study in the journal Diabetologia looked at 878 individuals at high risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK. The researchers compared health outcomes like adiposity and cardiovascular risk with hours spent sitting and time spent in physical activity. They also considered breaks in time spent seated.
Results showed that physical activity and breaks in sitting time were significantly and inversely correlated with participants’ amount of body fat.
An earlier study in the same journal also found a strong positive correlation between too much sitting and the development of type 2 diabetes, a result which also supports standing whenever possible. In addition, if your job or other activities involve lots of sitting, take regular breaks. Your health will benefit.
In a study conducted at Duke University, scientists followed a group of obese women in a weight loss program who agreed to track behaviors such as avoiding sugary drinks or walking at least 10,000 steps per day. Every day, they received texts reminding them to submit their results. Based on their reply, they received a follow up text message with advice and information. After six months, women who used this texting approach lost an average of 3 pounds, while those who relied on more traditional weight loss diaries gained an average of 2.5 pounds. The researchers cited the ease of texting, and the nearly real time interaction that it provides as possible reasons for its effectiveness.
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