Lose Weight: Read Labels & Move

October 13, 2010

With cold weather approaching in many parts of the country, most of us have the tendency to stay indoors more, eat more hearty foods and possibly even exercise less.

With cold weather approaching in many parts of the country, most of us have the tendency to stay indoors more, eat more hearty foods and possibly even exercise less.  The combination of these things and other factors definitely make fall and winter a time when many of us pack on the pounds.  Two recent studies give us some insight and even some proven tips on how to beat the bulge and stay healthy! 

The first study looked at how reading food labels can lead to weight loss, especially for middle aged women.  Today we are bombarded with nutrition information, food advertising, and front of package claims which can be very confusing- so it may seem counterintuitive that paying attention to labels can actually lead to better health (and not more confusion).  Researchers found that people who observe food labels and do not exercise have a greater likelihood of weight loss than exercisers who do not pay attention to food labels.  By simply adding an exercise routine to your lifestyle as well as reading food labels, your chances of losing weight are even greater!  The study is published in the fall 2010 Journal of Consumer Affairs; the data analyzed was taken from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth compiled from 2002-2006. The survey began in 1979 with over 12,000 male and female participants.

The second study focused on occupational, commuting, and leisure-time physical activity and heart health; specifically looking at the unique roles of leisure and non-leisure activity on heart failure.  Heart failure affects over 5 million Americans and is characterized by an inability of the heart to pump sufficient blood to meet the body’s needs. The study collected survey data of nearly 60,000 Finnish men and women and found unsurprisingly that leisure-time physical activity significantly lowered the risk among both men and women.  

Jobs that require physical activity (from a fair amount of standing to heavy lifting and vigorous activity) also reduced the risk for a major cardiac event.  Men and women with active jobs demonstrated a lowered risk of heart failure by about 25 percent, compared to those with sedentary office jobs.  After adjusting for leisure time and occupational physical activity, researchers found that women who walked or cycled to work also experienced a reduction in heart failure.  The study’s results are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Bottom line
While many of us sit at desks all day, and don't take the time to read food labels - these are two fairly easy things to change. SupermarketGuru suggests incorporating short spurts of exercise during work breaks - this can be a simple as going for a walk.  If you are close enough, walk or bike to work; make your commute an active commute. Some other tips include, parking further from the grocery or other stores, where there are plenty of empty spaces - this way you can get a little more walking in the day.  Take the stairs more, use local community parks if available – inquire about pedestrian and cycling paths.  And as SupermarketGuru been emphasizing for years, read food labels, and not just for calories, fat and or carbohydrates - look through ingredient lists and compare similar products.  Choose those with fewer ingredients, and preservatives, and make sure you can pronounce all of the words on the list.