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Overeat Now, Pay Later: Other Opinions

The study findings add credibility to what nutrition experts have told us for years about moderation, says Alice Lichtenstein, DSc, the Gershoff Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at the Friedman School at Tufts University, Boston.

"Given what we currently know, I think the best advice we can give people is to moderate food intake and physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight," she says.

''Although there are times when overindulgence is difficult to avoid, for example, Thanksgiving Day, it is important to not turn that event into Thanksgiving weekend."

Another interesting finding of the study, says Joan Salge Blake, RD, a professor of nutrition at Boston University, is that the feasting seems to have affected some more than others. "It sounds like some could get back to their previous weight," she says. But some were not able to.

The take-home message is clearly not to overeat in the first place, says Blake, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Once you gain it, it is very challenging to take it off.'' Prevention of weight gain is the best strategy, she says.

Lichtenstein can't help but wonder what might happen if researchers looked at the opposite situation: short-term undereating coupled with increased physical activity, and what effect that might have on body composition long-term.

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