If you had to guess which foods are most associated with obesity, which foods would you pick? If you were to identify the foods that keep weight under control, which foods would top your list? The old adage is that weight gain is simply more calories taken in than we burn off. New research from Harvard Medical School suggests that certain foods seem to be more linked to obesity than other foods. Perhaps we tend to overeat these foods, or perhaps they are more readily available. Whatever the reason, it's time to inventory our kitchen cabinets and restaurant habits and discover where sabotage lies.
Researchers started with 120,000 healthy middle-aged men and women who were not obese, and followed them through surveys for years. They found that potato chips were the strongest link to weight gain. Desserts, sweets, and breads made the list, but were not at the top. Here's the list of top 5 offenders linked to putting on the pounds:
- Potato chips
- Potatoes in general and fries (yes, potatoes again)
- Meats (processed)
- Red meats (unprocessed, this time)
- Sugar-sweetened beverages.
Here are the winners for foods most linked to keeping weight in control:
- Whole grains
Of course, any food can help pack on the pounds if we eat enough of it. The study also found that exercise and getting enough sleep were both associated with slaying slim. More hours spent in front of the TV were associated with weight gain; TV watching seemed to encourage snacking and also influenced food choices beyond TV-viewing time.
When I think about my struggle with these foods, I know that I can eat a large number of chips or multiple servings of a potato dish. Yet I hardly ever go overboard with the foods on the winner list (except maybe nuts). Combining snacking with TV watching is an area I could definitely improve.
Share your tips with us about easy ways to incorporate health-promoting foods into your diet. Do you have advice on portion control on your plate? We'd love to hear it.
Best of health,