How a Vacation Might Affect Your Weight

One to three-week vacations resulted in one-pound weight gain


Ah, vacations -- sun, sand, skiing, sightseeing or other fun activities, not to mention great food. It's that last item that may be a bit of a problem.

In a study from the University of Georgia, researchers found adults gained weight on vacations. The findings are worrisome because people typically gain a little weight every year, increasing health risks.

“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,"Lead author Jamie Cooper, PhD, said in a press release.

Dr Cooper is an associate professor in the University of Georgia department of foods and nutrition.

Dr. Cooper and co-author Theresa Tokar of Texas Tech University studied 122 adults with an average age of 32. All study participants took vacations between March and August that ranged from one to three weeks in length.

Dr. Cooper and Tokar conducted three lab visits for each study participant.

At each visit, the researchers collected data height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio. The lab visits occurred one week prior to and one week after the vacation, as well as three weeks after.

Dr. Cooper and Tokar found 61 percent of the patients gained weight on vacation. The average weight gain was just under one pound per person.

Weight varied considerably across the group. Some patients lost weight while others gained as much as seven pounds. The weight gain occurred in spite of increased physical activity during the vacation period.

The researchers noted that alcohol consumption doubled during vacation, providing a significant increase in calories.

Despite the weight gain, study participants were significantly less stressed after a vacation and had blood pressure reductions for up to six weeks post-vacation.

“One of the challenges people face is unless you’re diligent about weighing yourself before and after vacation, usually you’re not going to notice a pound of weight gain,” Dr. Cooper noted in the press release. “People don’t realize it’s happening, and that’s why they don’t lose weight following a vacation.”

This is the first study to look specifically at weight gain during short-term vacations.

The study was published online in the January issue of Physiology and Behavior.

Information on study fundings and conflicts of interest were not available.