Habits Of The Fat And Skinny

Harvard University has released a very comprehensive analysis of what makes people gain and lose weight. They followed 120,000 people for over a decade, and came up with some mind-blowing conclusions:

  • Eating healthy is very good
  • Exercise is also good
  • Getting enough sleep helps too

Seriously. The New York Times has a good overview of the study, although that article is misguided in that it draws the conclusion that simply eating healthy foods is the key to weight loss and that conversely, calorie counting is not helpful. It appears they didn’t hear about the nutrition professor who wanted to prove that very notion to his students, went on an 1800-calorie-per-day diet of Twinkies, and lost 27 pounds. It also seems to escape them that healthy foods are high in fiber and low in calories when compared to junk food, meaning they make us feel more full from less calories, which tends to make us not over-eat, leading to lower calorie intake.

The guy who lost 27 lbs by eating Twinkies


Just in case you didn’t know what healthy food is, the researchers divined a list from all the data:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • yogurt
  • peanut butter

Again, mind-blowing. The researchers were particularly surprised that yogurt was linked to a lot of weight loss, even though Yoplait figured that out way back in 2003; way to keep on the ball, Harvard. If you’re not done being shocked, here’s the list of bad foods they concluded make people fat:

  • potatoes of any kind, especially fries and chips
  • sugar, especially in soda but also desserts
  • red or processed meats
  • refined grains
  • fried foods
  • juice
  • butter

One interesting thing is the fact that juice made that list, which would be predicted by the fructose-is-the-devil theory of why sugar is bad for us. Other than that, nothing to see here: eat healthy and exercise.

From The New England Journal of Medicine, via The New York Times and Lifehacker

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