‘Creeping Obesity’: UGA Study Suggests Vacation Leads to Weight Gain

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ATHENS, Ga. – A week off from work could add some inches to your waistline — weight thats sticks even six weeks after vacation.

A study from University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences found that adults going on a one- to three-week vacation gained an average of about 1 pound during their trips. This may not seem like much, but with the average American reportedly gaining 1-2 pounds a year, the study’s findings suggest an alarming trend.

“If you’re only gaining a pound or two a year and you gained three-quarters of that on a one- to three-week vacation, that’s a pretty substantial weight gain during a short period of time,” said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the college’s department of foods and nutrition.

The study cites that “creeping obesity,” the typical pattern of adults adding a little weight over long periods of time, leads to more health problems later in life.

Cooper’s study sample featured 122 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 (average age of 32) who went on vacations between the months of March and August ranging from one to three weeks in length.


The vacation weight gain occurred despite a trend for slightly increased physical activity during vacation. The study also showed a decrease in physical activity in the weeks following vacation.

One reason for weight gain for study participants was likely increased caloric intake, specifically from alcohol consumption. The average consumption prior to vacation was eight drinks a week. That doubled to average of 16 per week for study participants. These empty calories in a diet are significant in looking at weight gain.


“People don’t realize it’s happening, and that’s why they don’t lose weight following a vacation,” Cooper said.


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