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Brief Pleasure, Long Burden

Brief Pleasure, Long Burden

A four-week episode of increased energy intake and decreased exercise can cause increased weight and fat mass more than two years later when compared to control individuals, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.


Asa Ernersson worked with a team of researchers from Linkoping University in Sweden to investigate the long-term effects of a sedentary and gluttonous lifestyle. They capped the physical activity of 18 individuals and used excessive food consumption to increase their energy intake by an average of 70% for four weeks. A separate control group ate and exercised as normal.

The intervention group gained an average of 14 pounds in body weight, which was mostly lost six months later. However, one year later the intervention group showed an increased fat mass compared to baseline; the differences were even greater after 2.5 years.

"The long-term difference in body weight in the intervention and control groups suggests that there is an extended effect on fat mass after a short period of large food consumption and minimal exercise,” Ernersson said.

The study provides interesting new evidence to suggest that even a short period of excessive eating and a lack of exercise can potentially change an individual's physiology, causing it to be harder to lose and keep off weight.

"The change of fat mass was larger than expected when compared to the controls,” Ernersson summarised. “It suggests that even short-term behavioral changes may have prolonged effects on health."

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