We've become so accustomed to stories of the dramatic weight gains -- the ones that come after a traumatic event or from stressful lifestyles or after pregnancy -- that it's hard to distinguish the other, more insidious kind: the weight creep.
The weight creep is hard to catch as it's happening (hence, the "creep"): "Because the weight gain is so gradual and occurs over many years, it has been difficult for scientists and for individuals themselves to understand the specific factors that may be responsible," according to Havard School of Public Health scientist Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian.
But now, thanks to a large-scale study conducted by Mozaffarian and other researchers (over 120,000 participants for 20 years), concrete, recognizable habits have been identified as culprits behind the one to two pound a year.
These were the biggest factors leading to weight gain:
Foods that added most to weight creep (pounds over four years)
- Daily consumption of potato chips (1.69 pounds)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages (1 pound)
- Unprocessed red meats (0.95 pound)
- Processed meats (0.93 pound)
Lifestyle choices that added to weight creep (pounds over four years)
- Watching one hour of TV per day (0.31 pound)
- Less than six hours of sleep or more than eight hours causes weight gain
- Participants who increased their physical activity gained less weight
"In a way," notes Yahoo! Shine, "the study changes everything we've ever been taught about good foods, bad foods and eating in moderation. Apparently we can't eat everything we want in moderation. According to the above research, even that handful of potatio chips can lead to weight creep, but it's up to you to decide if that salty goodness is worth a couple of pounds over four years."