The good news is you're probably lighter now than you were at any other point so far this year. The bad news is you're about to pack on the pounds again, and it'll take months to lose them. So report researchers out of Cornell and Finland in the New England Journal of Medicine after looking at the weight patterns of roughly 3,000 people in the US, Japan, and Germany over a one-year period. They found that while the precise patterns tend to be regional and based on national holidays (such as Golden Week in Japan and Thanksgiving in the US, reports Live Science), the overall pattern is that people eat more and gain more during these holidays, with most of the weight gain happening around the end of the year for people in all three countries. Before you start skipping meals, the average weight gain is only around one to two pounds. But it takes an average of five months to lose those holiday pounds.
"Once we hit the first week of October in the US, weight starts going up very slowly, and it peaks right after New Year’s," a co-author tells Consumer Reports. "Then it starts tracking down, but doesn’t hit the bottom until about mid-to-late-September." The study didn't rely on self-reporting but rather gathered data from the Withings WS-50 "smart scale" so the participants could weigh themselves from the comfort of their own home. One limitation, then, is that the sample population is likelier wealthier and better educated than the typical person without this type of scale, but the researchers note that the study "still provides insights for practice." Ultimately, they suggest making an October resolution to avoid the weight gain in the first place, which is easier than putting in all the time and work to lose the weight, reports MedicalXpress. (Americans are many pounds heavier today than just 20 years ago.)