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Sedentary lifestyle makes long-term weight loss tougher

If you think a few weeks of slothful behaviour and caloric overindulgence can be easily worked off at the gym, think again.

Sedentary lifestyle makes long-term weight loss tougher

If you think a few weeks of slothful behaviour and caloric overindulgence can be easily worked off at the gym, think again. Weight gained during high calorie and low exercise periods tends to stick around.

A sedentary lifestyle and increased consumption of energy dense food have become more common in many parts of the world. Researchers studied 18 Swedish normal weight healthy adults aged 26 years to find the long-term effects on body composition after increasing the fast food consumption and reducing the physical activity. Data regarding the weight and body composition was collected of all the participants. For one month, all the participants were placed on a restricted physical activity regimen that involved the equivalent of no more than 5,000 steps per day. In addition, participants started diets involving a 70 percent increase in daily caloric intake - mainly from fast food - amounting to about 5,750 calories ingested per day. The researchers also included a comparison group who did not change their diet / activity.

During the follow-up after four weeks, it was found that the feasting group gained an average of 6 kg weight. Their fat mass was also found to have gone up from 20 percent of total body weight, to nearly 24 percent after the month-long intervention. The participants lost more than 4 kg of that new weight over the ensuing six months. However, one year after the study's end, participants still registered a noticeable gain in fat mass of about 1.4 kg on average, compared with their pre-study status. Two-and-a-half years after the study, fat mass gains were even higher, registering under 3 kg on average. There was no such long-term change among the control group who had stuck to their usual diet.

The findings suggest that the new fat gained stuck around despite the fact that the participants had returned to their lower-calorie pre-study diet and more active routines. The study shows that a brief period of excessive over-eating, coupled with reined-in activity, may change body composition and lead to a significant boost in body fat levels. And these changes appear to endure, despite a return to healthier behaviour.
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