EXERCISE
November 30, 2009

Trade Your TV For A Treadmill

Making activity part of your home life helps maintains weight loss. People who lose weight and keep it off implement relatively simple changes to their home life.

A new study suggests that creating a healthy home environment for yourself may be the key – in addition to will−power, of course — to keep off recently lost weight.

“The home environment really came out as a stronger factor than we would have anticipated,” said lead author Suzanne Phelan, in a Health Behavior News Service release.

The weight−loss group also had markedly different varieties of foods in their homes – more fruits, vegetables, low−fat dairy – and fewer high−fat foods. They also had more exercise equipment and fewer TVs in their households than either of the other two groups.

Phelan and her team followed three groups of participants: the first had successfully shed unwanted pounds and kept it off for at least five years. The other two groups were enrolled in different weight−loss programs but were still obese. Phelan and her colleagues looked at what they ate, how often they exercised, and at various aspects of their home environments.

The researchers found that on average, the weight−loss group burned 2,877 calories per week, while the other two groups expended only 1,003 and 762, respectively. The weight−loss group also had markedly different varieties of foods in their homes – more fruits, vegetables, low−fat dairy – and fewer high−fat foods. Interestingly, they also had more exercise equipment and fewer TVs in their households than either of the other two groups.

The authors, from the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, say that the weight−loss group seemed to exhibit more “dietary restraint” than the other groups, but are not sure why. It may be because there were fewer unhealthy options in the home, so less likelihood of giving in to temptation: “The home environment of the weight−loss maintainers contained fewer high−fat foods and televisions and, thus, may have demanded fewer self−control resources than the more 'toxic' home environments of the treatment−seeking obese,” the authors write.

“You have to pay attention to your home environment if you want to succeed,” Phelan concludes. “Do you have TVs in every room? When you walk into your kitchen, do you see high−fat food or healthy food?”

The authors published their findings in the October issue of Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

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