Tue, Feb 01, 2011 - Page 2 News List

New Year feasts take toll on weight

KEEP HEALTHY:Rather than reach for fattening snacks such as peanuts and candies, a medical professional recommended indulging in fresh fruit and vegetables

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

Women walk past posters advertising food in Taipei yesterday. A Department of Health survey shows that about 40 percent of people put on weight every Lunar New Year holiday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

As a result of all the feasts and fatty food consumed over the Lunar New Year holiday, two out of five people will gain weight during the period, with an average of 1.7kg in extra padding being gained, the Department of Health said yesterday.

The department’s Bureau of Health Promotion polled 1,077 people over the age of 18 across the country via telephone from Jan. 16 through Jan. 19 to ask them about their weight management plans over the holidays.

More than half of respondents, or 63 percent, said they did not pay any attention to weight gain or loss during the holidays, while 41 percent said they gained weight after every Lunar New Year holiday.

The average adult gains 1.7kg each holiday season, the poll showed, as nearly half the adult population indulges in snacks, including candies, cookies and other holiday treats.

The survey also found that 38 percent of respondents said that they eat more during the holiday than they usually do and 43 percent exercise less.

Results also showed that men were not as careful about their weight as women, with 42 percent of women saying they would watch their weight during the holiday season, compared with 30 percent of men.

“If we lose weight in a healthy way, we should, at most, lose between 0.5kg and 1kg each week. So if a person gains between 3kg and 5kg during the holidays, it would take a couple of months to lose all that weight,” said Chu Nian-feng (祝年豐), a professor of public health at the National Defense Medical Center and a doctor at Shuang Ho Hospital in Taipei.

However, “gaining weight happens much faster, so the first step in weight management is to avoid gaining more weight,” he said.

Bureau statistics showed that in 2008, 44.1 percent of the nation’s adult population were overweight or obese.

Chu said that to avoid gaining weight, it was important to maintain regular sleep patterns and to avoid high-calorie foods, such as peanuts, cashew nuts and many types of candy.

Instead of reaching for such fattening snacks, Chu suggested consuming more fruit and vegetables and drinking plenty of water, while maintaining a moderate exercise regime.

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