A prospective study on vacation weight gain in adults

Physiol Behav. 2016 Mar 15;156:43-7. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.12.028. Epub 2016 Jan 5.


Purpose: To determine if a 1- to 3-week vacation in adults leads to weight gain and whether that gain persists 6weeks later.

Methods: 122 adults going on a 1- to 3-week vacation completed 3 visits. The visits were 1week prior to, 1week post, and 6week post vacation. Height, weight, blood pressure, and waist-to-hip ratio, physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire - IPAQ) and stress (Perceived Stress Scale - PSS) were measured.

Results: Body weight increased on vacation (0.32±0.08kg, p<0.05) and this increase persisted so that total weight gain was 0.41±0.11kg (p<0.05). No difference in weight gain based on BMI was found (0.28±0.13kg, 0.39±0.14kg, and 0.48±0.27kg for normal weight, overweight, and obese, respectively). PSS decreased for the study (17.1±0.5 to 14.9±0.6 for pre-vacation to 6-weeks post-vacation, respectively; p<0.001), and total physical activity tended to increase on vacation (3940±235 vs. 4313±344METs, for pre- vs. post-vacation, respectively; p=0.10) and decreased in the post-vacation period (4313±344 vs. 3715±306METs, p<0.05).

Conclusions: Vacations resulted in significant weight gain (0.32kg), and this weight gain persisted at the 6-week follow-up period. The weight gain appeared to be driven by increased energy intake above energy requirements. This gain could be a significant contributor to yearly weight gain in adults and therefore affect obesity prevalence.

Keywords: Obesity; Physical activity; Stress; Vacation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Holidays*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Gain / physiology*