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Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar;95(3):726-31. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.023036. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Relation between holiday weight gain and total energy expenditure among 40- to 69-y-old men and women (OPEN study).

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Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.



A significant proportion of the average annual body weight (BW) gain in US adults (~0.5-1 kg/y) may result from modest episodes of positive energy balance during the winter holiday season.


We tested whether holiday BW gain was reduced in participants with high baseline total energy expenditure (TEE) or whether it varied by BMI (in kg/m(2)).


In a secondary analysis of previously published data, ΔBW normalized over 90 d from mid-September/mid-October 1999 to mid-January/early March 2000 was analyzed by sex, age, and BMI in 443 men and women (40-69 y of age). TEE was measured by doubly labeled water. High or low energy expenditure was assessed as residual TEE after linear adjustment for age, height, and BW.


No correlations between ΔBW and TEE or TEE residuals were found. Sixty-five percent of men and 58% of women gained ≥0.5 kg BW, with ~50% of both groups gaining ≥1% of preholiday BW. Obese men (BMI ≥30) gained more BW than did obese women.


A high preholiday absolute TEE or residual TEE did not protect against BW gain during the winter holiday quarter. It is not known whether higher than these typical TEE levels would protect against weight gain or if the observed gain may be attributed to increased food consumption and/or reduced physical activity during the holiday quarter.

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