Weigh-ins and tips to help prevent piling on the pounds at Christmas

Studies have shown that from mid-November to early January during the Christmas celebrations, individuals will gain an average of half a kilogram. With men gaining slightly more, around 900 grams each, while women gained a little less, about 500 grams apiece [1]. Half a kilo may not sound so bad, but studies have found that on average, people will gain about one kilogram each year and keep it ON. This phenomenon has been called the “weight creep”. After 10 years of these small increases in weight, it amounts to an additional 10 kilograms of weight. The holiday weight gain could be a more important factor in the obesity epidemic than we realise.

Regular weigh-ins at home, plus simple weight-loss tips, could prevent people from piling on the pounds at Christmas, according to a new study and reported widely in the press.

The researchers say the Effectiveness of a brief behavioural intervention to prevent weight gain over the Christmas holiday period study, published in the BMJ, is the first to look at preventing seasonal weight gain [2].

The Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough divided 272 volunteers into two groups. The “intervention” group weighed themselves regularly. They were also given information on how much exercise was needed to burn calories in Christmas food, shown in the image below [2]. One mince pie at 245 calories will take up to 40 minutes of walking or 21 minutes of running to burn off these calories.

They ended up weighing 1lb (0.49kg) less than the “comparison” group.

The comparison group didn’t track their weight – they were just given a healthy lifestyle leaflet, which did not include dietary advice.

Frances Mason, first author of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research commented:

“On Christmas Day alone, an individual might consume 6,000 calories—three times the recommended daily allowance. Christmas is likely to tax even the most experienced weight controller. Low intensity interventions such as the one used in our .. Study should be considered by health policy makers to prevent weight gain in the population during high-risk periods such as holidays.”

Lead author Frances Mason commented:

“People gain a kilo of weight on average annually. Often this weight gain happens at Christmas and is never fully lost. This could possibly be a factor driving the obesity epidemic.

It’s small changes … instead of consuming five pigs-in-blankets, consume one or two. Or make sure you get out of the house for a walk. Research shows people underestimate calories and overestimate their calorie expenditure.

This is why accurate self-monitoring is an effective strategy for weight management.”

Activ8rlives suggests 10 simple and manageable steps to help you achieve realistic goals this coming year:

Echoing the comment about accurate self-monitoring, Activ8rlives provides a free Activ8rlives 4 Health+Wellness App and tools for self-managing your health and wellness at home.
Weigh yourself daily, preferably with a smart scale which records your body composition and this will keep you informed as to your weight fluctuations and will encourage you to think before you put food into your mouth or get active to burn off calories.
Don’t skip breakfast, particularly women, we tend to make up for the lack of calories at breakfast later in the day and we don’t burn off these calories fully when we eat later.
Use smaller plates and reduce portion size, eat more slowly and as a consequence you reduce your portion size and don’t eat as much.
Swap your foods for lower calorie foods and healthier options, not just low fat because often foods replace the fat as sugar.
Be more mindful and connected to your food. As a result, you tend to eat more slowly, reach satiety or the feeling of being comfortably full sooner, thereby reducing your food intake.
Switch your drinks for healthier options choose water or sugar-free squash. Limit fruit juice. Alcohol is high in calories so limit to one a day for women and two for men.
Being habitually active and Activ8rlives suggests 10,000 step goal as a target and to record this so you can get a visual feel of how you are doing on a daily basis.
Have a “buddy” to gain encouragement from and this will help with your own motivation and will encourage you to stick with your goals.
Getting enough sleep also helps you maintain a healthier weight, as we tend to consume more calories when we are tired, and typically we snack and pick more often in the evenings as a result.
A World Health Organization (WHO) report [4] it estimated that within the WHO European Region, almost one million deaths per year are attributable to insufficient physical activity. In many countries, therefore, physical inactivity is now considered one of the major causes of death. 

Inactivity is the one thing we can change most easily and that will provide the greatest benefits to our health and wellbeing and we should prescribe this for ourselves.
Millions around the world will be making their New Year’s resolutions on the 31st December — the chance to wipe the slate clean at the start of the calendar year is a powerful notion that crosses cultures. Yet for so many of us it ends in failure, often within a week or even 24 hours.

Activ8rlives suggests that by making your goals simple realistic and achievable, recording your progress with feedback and accountability for your healthy behaviour changes, along with celebration of your successes are part of the new you.

Changes to your overall health and wellness are not achieved overnight. It takes time and you will frequently fail along the way – that is normal. So, take it one step at a time and every day is a new opportunity for you to change for a healthier you.


Aseptika Ltd (www.activ8rlives.com), the connected healthcare company, has achieved certification to ISO 13485:2016 under Certificate Number MD691414 with BSI as its Notified Body.


[1] Jamie Cooper & Joy Dubost, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2013.

[2] https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4867

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46481137

[4] World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Europe (2013) Physical activity promotion in socially disadvantaged groups: Principles for action. Accessed online.

12 December 2018