Eat Your Way Thin

A few French fries can’t hurt, right? Actually, wrong! A surprising new study shows that eating just a bit more of some popular foods can really pack on the pounds.

For several decades now, Harvard researchers have tracked the effect of various lifestyle factors, including diet, on the health and well-being of more than 120,000 volunteer doctors and nurses. Their latest report reveals that the average study participant gained 3.35 pounds over every four-year period, or almost 17 pounds in 20 years.

The good news is that although foods such as fries packed on the pounds, other foods were linked to weight loss over the years – and not just fruits and vegetables. Butter was the only full-fat dairy food that was associated with significant weight gain – cheese and whole milk were not.

And though some research suggests that diet sodas can make you gain weight despite having no calories, in this study they didn’t.

The researchers based their findings on self-reported diet, exercise, sleep, TV habits, and weight gain or loss. And they found that, of course, maintaining a healthy weight isn’t just about what you put I your mouth: People with the worst fitness and food habits gained about 6 pounds more every four years than the people with the best diets and most workouts.

But eating right and getting moving aren’t the only secrets to weight-loss success. Sleeping more also helps. Participants in the study who slept 6 to 8 hours a night had healthier weights than those who got less sleep. Watching less TV is another factor. For every hour per day spent in front of the boob tube, study participants gained 1/3 pound every four years.

What Price Skinny? In a new study, 30 percent of women said they would give up at least a year of their life and 13 percent would pay over $8,000 a year to be at their ideal weight and body shape.

Worst Foods

For every extra daily serving of these foods, people gained this amount of weight, on average, over four years.

• French Fries – +3.35 pounds
• Potato Chips – + 1.69 pounds
• Sugar-sweetened Drinks – +1 pound
• Processed Meats – +0.93 pounds
• Red Meat – +0.95 pound
• Foods Containing Trans Fat – +0.65 pound
• Potatoes (baked, boiled, or mashed) – +0.57 pound
• Sweets and Desserts = +0.41 pound
• Butter – +0.30 pound

Best Foods

For every additional daily serving of these foods, people lost this amount of weight, on average:

• Yogurt (-0.82 pound)
• Nuts (-0.57 pound)
• Fruits (-0.49 pound)
• Whole grains (-0.37 pound)
• Veggies (-.022 pound)

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