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This is your brain on pumpkin pie

Image credit: Evan Amos
Thanksgiving is a special time in the United States when we gather our loved ones and celebrate the abundance of fall with a rich palette of traditional foods.  Yet a new study suggests that the 6-week holiday period that spans Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve accounts for most of our country’s weight problem (1).  Understanding this fact, and why it happens, gives us powerful insights into why we gain weight, and what to do about it.

Elina Helander, a postdoctoral researcher at Tampere University of Technology in Finland, and her colleagues set out to answer a simple question: how does a person’s body weight change over the course of the year?  To find out, they used internet-connected scales to collect daily body weight data from nearly 3,000 volunteers in the United States, Germany, and Japan.  After crunching the data, a striking pattern emerged: no matter what you celebrate, at any time of year, the holidays are likely to be your period of greatest weight gain.

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