Short-term Overeating Could Have Long-term Effects

Overeating for just a few weeks could have lasting health consequences. In a new study, participants continued to pack on fat even after returning to a healthy diet.

A new study claims that even short-term overeating could be costly in the battle of the bulge.

New research out of Sweden suggests that eating unhealthy for just one month could change physiology, making the accumulated fat even more difficult to lose.

“A short period of over-eating can have later long-term effects,” said study co-author Dr. Torbjorn Lindstrom, an associate professor in the department of medical and health sciences within the faculty of health sciences at Linkoping University.

Researchers studied 18 men and women who were of a normal weight for one month. During the study, all 18 participants – all in their 20s – were placed on a regimen that limited their physical activity to the equivalent of no more than 5,000 steps per day, which is considered a “sedentary” lifestyle. The participants also adopted a diet that involved consuming 70 percent more calories than normal — about 5,750 calories per day. A comparison group that did not change its diet and activity level was also studied.

Researchers found that at the end of one month, participants in the group that ate more and exercised less gained an average of 14 pounds. Over the next six months, the participants lost most of the accumulated weight (more than 10 pounds). However, one year after the study was completed participants still had a noticeable gain in fat mass when compared to their pre-study numbers.

What’s more, two and a half years after the study, the gains in fat mass were even greater researchers noted, while there was no long-term change among the control group, who stuck to their typical diet.

In light of the findings, researchers determined that even short periods of binging and a lack of physical activity could change body composition, as well as result in a significant increase in levels of body fat, even after returning to normal healthy eating habits.

Although the results may worry the occasional overeater, researchers insist that more studies are needed to determine the overall effect short-term overeating can have.

Details of the study were published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

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