Being the curious creatures that we humans most certainly are, it's no surprise that a wide range of factors from genetics to stress and exercise habits play a part in how (and where) we gain weight. But new research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Searle Scholars Program indicates that there are several key foods that could also play a critical role in how effortlessly we pack on the pounds. How many of these do you regularly eat?
According to the study's findings published in the most recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a healthy, average-weight person gains approximately 3.35 pounds every four years, and there's a strong chance the weight—especially in the hips—is most likely a result of eating potato chips. (Lays brand potato chips advertising slogan "No One Can Eat Just One" ironically illuminates this painful truth.)
Other foods credited with making you wonder if your scale is working correctly (according to the study):
Potatoes: Not just the fried chips, but even eating carb-heavy baked potatoes can add more than a pound of weight over the 4-year measurement.
Sweetened beverages: No surprises here; Americans are certainly drinking more calories than at any other time in history. Even just one soda a day can increase the risk of gaining much more weight than those who drank less than one soft drink a month. Once-daily soda drinkers had more than an 80 percent increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, too. (But don't opt for the diet soda either. It can also make you gain weight.)
Unprocessed red meat: Despite the gospel of those who achieved success on the South Beach or Atkins diet, the study showed that unprocessed red meat like steaks and chops added nearly a pound of weight gain to the study participants.
Processed meats: But don't trade in that steak for turkey roll or bologna. The study also showed that processed meats added almost as much weight as unprocessed red meat.
While less than 4 pounds in 4 years may seem innocuous, the study authors warn that even modest increases in weight have implications for long-term risks including metabolic dysfunction, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
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