Weight Gain Season: Halloween to New Year’s is Tricky

Posted 11/01/2016 | By HealthCorps

It’s that time of the year! Late October through New Year’s Day is a time of fun celebrations, family get-togethers, gift giving and a two month food fest—one that ends in weight gain.  The problem is that weight gained during the holiday season (about eight weeks) can take months to lose, according to a new study.  And many individuals never lose the weight, packing on extra pounds that stay on and accumulate, year after year.

The weight gain phenomenon is not just unique to the U.S.  Holiday season, and specifically from the ten days before Christmas to ten days after, data shows Americans gain just under half a pound, while Japanese gain a half pound and Germans tend to gain a bit more.  From Christmas to New Year’s Day, American gain 0.7% more weight, while Germans gain 1.0%, according to Brian Wansink, PhD, of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

The year-long study published in the New England Journal of Medicine allowed the researchers to track subjects’ weight via wireless, remote scales.  The researchers noted significant spikes in weight in subjects from each participating country, around the major food-driven holidays.  Thanksgiving in the U.S. spurred a spike in weight.  Golden Week and Easter inspired weight gain among Japanese, and Easter significantly spiked weight gain among Germans.

The researchers also took note of the fact that it took much longer to lose the weight than to gain the weight.  Among Americans, weight gain actually continued through May, and then the impending warmer months seemed to spur weight loss.  That lasted until the following Halloween season in October.

The researchers suggest that the subjects in these prosperous countries largely gain weight during national holidays.  Implementing strategies like mindful eating, measuring portions, including more quality foods such as fruits and vegetables, learning to selectively choose treats, if you really want them, and trying to refrain from taking in large quantities of liquid calories, can help to minimize holiday weight gain.  So can a daily exercise habit – which often gets discarded during the frenzy of the holiday season.  If you gain less, you’ll have less to lose.

Here are some other tips to help prevent weight gain during the holiday season:

  • Make garden salads and simple cooked vegetables the base of your meal
  • Drink water before, during and after the meal
  • Drink wine spritzers to cut wine calories
  • Take small spoons of treats
  • Send leftovers home with guests or freeze leftovers
  • Implement healthy swaps for high sugar and fat ingredients


Stay tuned for Part Two of this discussion: Diagnosis: Halloween to New Year’s Weight Gain (November 22nd)

Here are some prominent November Health Calendar Alerts:

American Diabetes Month


COPD Awareness Month
American Lung Association

Lung Cancer Awareness Month


National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month


The Great American Smokeout – November 19th


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