Weekly, Seasonal, and Festive Period Weight Gain Among Australian Adults

Carol Maher*, Ty Ferguson, Rachel Curtis, Wendy Brown, Dorothea Dumuid, Francois Fraysse, Gilly A. Hendrie, Ben Singh, Adrian Esterman, Timothy Olds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review



Obesity is a major global health concern. A better understanding of temporal patterns of weight gain will enable the design and implementation of interventions with potential to alter obesity trajectories. 


To describe changes in daily weight across 12 months among Australian adults. 

Design, Setting, and Participants: 

This cohort study conducted between December 1, 2019, and December 31, 2021 in Adelaide, South Australia, involved 375 community-dwelling adults aged 18 to 65 years. Participants wore a fitness tracker and were encouraged to weigh themselves, preferably daily but at least weekly, using a body weight scale. Data were remotely gathered using custom-developed software. 


Time assessed weekly, seasonally, and at Christmas/New Year and Easter.

Main Outcomes and Measures:

Data were visually inspected to assess the overall early pattern in weight change. Data were detrended (to remove systematic bias from intraindividual gradual increases or decreases in weight) by calculating a line of best fit for each individual's annual weight change relative to baseline and subtracting this from each participant's weight data. Multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analysis was used to compare weight across days of the week and seasons and at Christmas/New Year and Easter. 


Of 375 participants recruited, 368 (mean [SD] age, 40.2 [5.9] years; 209 [56.8%] female; mean [SD] baseline weight, 84.0 [20.5] kg) provided at least 7 days of weight data for inclusion in analyses. Across the 12-month period, participants gained a median of 0.26% body weight (218 g) (range, -29.4% to 24.0%). Weight fluctuated by approximately 0.3% (252 g) each week, with Mondays and Tuesdays being the heaviest days of the week. Relative to Monday, participants' weight gradually decreased from Tuesday, although not significantly so (mean [SE] weight change, 0.01% [0.03%]; P =.83), to Friday (mean [SE] weight change, -0.18% [0.03%]; P <.001) and increased across the weekend to Monday (mean [SE] weight change for Saturday, -0.16% [0.03%]; P <.001; mean [SE] weight change for Sunday, -0.10% [0.03%]; P <.001). Participants' weight increased sharply at Christmas/New Year (mean [SE] increase, 0.65% [0.03%]; z score, 25.30; P <.001) and Easter (mean [SE] weight change, 0.29% [0.02%], z score, 11.51; P <.001). Overall, participants were heaviest in summer (significantly heavier than in all other seasons), were lightest in autumn (mean [SE] weight change relative to summer, -0.47% [0.07%]; P <.001), regained some weight in winter (mean [SE] weight change relative to summer, -0.23% [0.07%]; P =.001), and became lighter in spring (mean [SE] weight change relative to summer, -0.27% [0.07%]; P <.001). 

Conclusions and Relevance: 

In this cohort study of Australian adults with weekly and yearly patterns in weight gain observed across 12 months, high-risk times for weight gain were Christmas/New Year, weekends, and winter, suggesting that temporally targeted weight gain prevention interventions may be warranted..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


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