"Often, people try to prevent and manage excess weight and obesity by dieting and skipping meals. In the long term, such approaches seem to actually accelerate getting fatter, rather than prevent it," said Ulla Kärkkäinen, a researcher and licensed nutritional therapist at the University.
The study was part of the extensive FinnTwin 16 study, with over 4,900 young male and female participants. The participants completed surveys regarding the factors impacting weight and weight change when they were at the age of 24. They again completed the surveys 10 years later, when they were 34 years old.
Results of the study revealed that most participants gained weight during the 10-year period, with only 7.5 percent of women and 3.8 percent of men lost weight. The average weight gained in women was 0.9 kg per year, while the average weight gain in men was 1 kg.
On top of dieting and irregular eating habits, other factors that increased the risk of gaining weight in women included giving birth to two or more children, regular intake of sweetened beverages, and poor contentment with life. In men, the additional factor increasing the risk of weight gain was smoking.
On the other hand, the factors that prevented weight gain in women included physical activity, and a higher level of education; and greater weight at the beginning of the study period in men.
"To effectively prevent weight gain, understanding the factors underlying weight management that precedes the gain, or primary weight management, is of utmost importance," noted Kärkkäinen.
The findings of the study suggested that rather than losing weight, it is more important to concentrate more on eating regular meals, taking care of one's well-being, and finding a more general sense of meaning in life. Eating regularly and sufficiently supports the natural biological functions of the body, as well as helps in controlling one's eating habits and weight management in the long run. (Related: Healthy Living: Why Maintaining A Healthy Weight Is So Important To Overall Health.)
"Our findings demonstrate that weight management would benefit from an increased focus on individual differences, as wells as perceiving the factors that impact human wellbeing and the sense of meaning in life as a broader whole," concluded Kärkkäinen.
Being overweight and obese have consequences, particularly increased risk of various health problems. In pregnant women, extra weight may result in short- and long-term health complications for both them and their child. Other health complications that may occur due to excess weight include Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, different types of cancer including breast, colon and rectum, endometrium, gallbladder, and kidney cancers, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, kidney disease. Pregnancy problems, such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery, are also included as complications. In addition to increased risks of diseases, excess weight leads to a low quality of life, mental illnesses, such as clinical depression, and anxiety, as well as body pain and difficulty with physical functioning.
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