Pud a lid on it: Think twice before scoffing that mince pie
We hate to be a Scrooge, but it takes longer than you think to work off those festive treats, experts warn
It is a scheme worthy of Ebenezer Scrooge, but health experts have released a list of exercises needed to work off festive treats in the hope revellers will think twice about overindulging this Christmas.
Even a small Christmas pudding requires nearly two hours of running to burn off the eye-watering 1,280 calories, while it would take 21 minutes of jogging to shift just one mince pie or five Rose’s chocolates.
Likewise, a brisk 35-minute walk would be needed to shed one slice of Christmas cake, or a 12-minute stroll for a single Ferrero Rocher.
The joyless advice also recommends refusing second helpings, daily weigh-ins, limiting alcohol to one glass a day, keeping a food diary and avoiding watching television while eating.
However, although it might seem unfestive, researchers at the universities of Birmingham and Loughborough have shown the tips and techniques actually work.
For the past two Christmases they asked 272 people to either take part in the Winter Weight Watch programme or receive a leaflet about healthy lifestyle which had no dietary advice.
After weighing the participants in January and February after the trial, they found those who followed the recommendations were an average 490g lighter than the comparison group.
Frances Mason, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, said: “The festive season coincides with public holidays in many countries, providing an opportunity for prolonged overconsumption and sedentary behaviour.
“On Christmas Day alone an individual might consume 6,000 calories – three times the recommended daily allowance.
“Christmas is likely to tax even the most experienced weight controller. Low-intensity interventions such as the one used in our Winter Weight Watch Study should be considered by health policy makers to prevent weight gain in the population during high-risk periods such as holidays.”
On average people gain a small amount of weight of up to 1kg each year and holidays such as Christmas are responsible for most of this annual weight gain.
Although it might seem small, the extra weight is difficult to shift, and if it accumulates can lead to significant increase in weight over time.
“Weight gained during holiday periods often is not subsequently lost and, although these gains are small, over 10 years they would lead to a significant increase in body weight,” said senior author Professor Amanda Daley, of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University.
“Our research has shown that a brief intervention over the Christmas period can help to prevent these small weight gains that accumulate and drive the obesity epidemic.”
The study is the first known trial to test a strategy for preventing weight gain at Christmas.
Corresponding author Dr Amanda Farley, a lecturer in public health and epidemiology at the University of Birmingham, said: “The results of this study are encouraging.
“The information given to participants was tailored to the local cultural context but could also easily be adapted for use in other settings and countries.”
The research was published in the Christmas edition of the BMJ.
Mince pie: 21-minute run;
Mulled wine: 33-minute walk;
5 sausage rolls: 12-minute walk;
1 small Christmas pudding (450g): 110-minute run;
5 teaspoons of gravy (125g): 8-minute walk;
Small glass of mulled wine: 33-minute walk;
Three large roast potatoes (100g): 27-minute walk;
1 thick slice of roast turkey (60g): 16-minute walk.
– © The Daily Telegraph