What dietary and lifestyle choices contribute to "middle age spread"?

New research suggests that combating “middle age spread” can be accomplished by making the same daily dietary and lifestyle decisions that are good for your heart health. A study published in June 2011 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that eating certain types of food was associated with midlife weight gain.

Weight gain was associated with eating:
  • potato chips
  • potatoes 
  • sugar-sweetened beverages
  • unprocessed red meats
  • processed meats
Meanwhile, weight loss was linked to eating:
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • yogurt
Also associated with incremental weight gain over time were various lifestyle factors, such as:
  • sleeping less or more than 6 to 8 hours a night,
  • increased alcohol consumption,
  • decreasing or maintaining (rather than increasing) exercise levels,
  • increasing television viewing time, and
  • quitting smoking
While on average participants in the studies included in the analysis gained only 0.8 lb. per year, this gradual weight gain added up over time to 8 pounds per decade and increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other health problems.

The article analyzed long-term data from over 120,000 women and men in the United States who participated in one of three studies.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.