Along with souvenirs, there’s a good chance you’ll return from your vacation with some extra weight, new research suggests.
The study looked at 122 American adults, aged 18 to 65, who went on vacations ranging from one to three weeks between March and August.
Sixty-one percent gained weight while on vacation, with an average gain of 0.7 pounds, and that weight tended to stay on after they returned home. Some gained as much as 7 pounds, while others lost weight, the investigators found.
One of the main contributors to vacation weight gain was increased intake of calories, especially from alcohol. The average number of drinks went from eight a week before vacation to 16 a week while on vacation, the researchers said.
The findings are alarming, according to study author Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the department of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia.
“If you’re only gaining a pound or two a year and you gained three-quarters of that on a one- to three-week vacation, that’s a pretty substantial weight gain during a short period of time,” Cooper said in a university news release.
The results support the theory of “creeping obesity,” in which adults gain small amounts of weight over a long period, increasing their risk of future health problems.
“One of the challenges people face is unless you’re diligent about weighing yourself before and after vacation, usually you’re not going to notice a pound of weight gain,” Cooper said. “People don’t realize it’s happening, and that’s why they don’t lose weight following a vacation.”
The study was released online in advance of print publication in the journal Physiology and Behavior.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent weight gain.