How Much Weight Do People Gain on Thanksgiving?

Popular belief holds that the average American gains somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds over the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year's Day). A few studies over the last decade, though, have found that we're not nearly as gluttonous as we think we are.

After weighing 94 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Oklahoma before and after their Thanksgiving break, researchers found that the students gained, on average, only 0.5 kg or 1.10 pounds.

When the researchers stratified the students by gender, class standing and BMI category (either normal or overweight/obese), they found that males gained more weight than females (0.6 kg or 1.32 lb), graduate students gained more weight than undergrads (0.8 kg or 1.76 lb) and students classified as overweight by their by BMI gained more than students with normal BMIs (1.0 kg or 2.20 lb).

Another study by the National Institutes of Health repeatedly weighed 195 volunteers (mostly employees of the NIH in Maryland) during the period between late September and early March.

Between late September and mid-November, there was a mean weight gain of 0.18 kg or 0.39 lb. During the mid-November to mid-January holiday period, the mean weight gain was 0.37 kg or 0.81 lb. During the remainder of the study period, there was actually a mean weight loss of 0.07 kg or 0.15 lb. Total average gain for the whole study period was 0.48 kg or 1.05 lb (slightly less than the Oklahoma students had gained during Thanksgiving break alone). A few outliers (about 9% of the participants) gained at least 2.3 kg or 5.07 lb over the mid-November to mid-January holiday period.

The majority of participants were weighed again after the initial study period in the following September or October, where the researchers found that not only were those holiday pounds not lost, there was an additional average weight gain of 0.21 kg or 0.45 lb.

What are the takeaways from this research?

1. You will probably gain some weight this Thanksgiving (and some more during the December holidays).
2. It will not be as much as you might think (when participants in the NIH reported their perceived weight gain, it was usually four times as much as they had actually gained).
3. Although the average weight gains in these studies were modest, the NIH researchers did find that these gains were not reversed over the summer, so all those extra drumsticks might just catch up with you over the course of a few years.

Quick True/False: World Capitals
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10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


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