Myth Busted:Ten-pound holiday weight gain not reality for most

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Myth Busted:
Ten-pound holiday weight gain not reality for most

Released: Wednesday, December 08, 2004

BATON ROUGE – You may not have to give up dessert all together this holiday season. A registered dietician at one of the world’s largest nutrition research centers says the ten-pound weight gain we often associate with the holidays just doesn’t happen for most of us.

“The holiday weight gain has come under scientific scrutiny, and it’s pretty clear. On average, we gain only about a pound,” said Susan Seab of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

“To gain ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s day, you would have to eat at least 35,000 calories more than your normal diet – and that’s only if you keep your activity level the same,” Seab said, “Keep in mind that holiday activities burn off a few extra calories too.

So exactly where would 35,000 extra calories be hiding?

“From Thanksgiving to January first, you’d have to eat your normal diet, PLUS polish off an extra gallon of egg nog, a nine pound roasted turkey, one and a half gallons of cola and two entire cheese cakes.” said Seab.

So does that mean we can eat with abandon and enjoy? Seab says no.

In reality, one of our national problems is weight gain. Obesity is a serious problem and is beginning to show up in epidemic proportions even in children. Holiday eating does contribute to the problem.

The research shows that some people do gain an extra 5 or so pounds.

“Even if you gain only one pound,” Seab said, “you’re not likely to loose it in the spring and summer. So, the pound you add this holiday season will still be there to greet the pound you pick up next year.”


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.