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The Relationship Between Feasting Periods and Weight Gain: a Systematic Scoping Review


Purpose of Review

Whilst evidence indicates that weight gain occurs over holidays, the contribution of specific festive periods and celebrations to eating behaviour and weight gain is unclear. We aimed to synthesise literature on how festive periods and celebrations contribute to population weight gain and weight-related outcomes.

Recent Findings

Thirty-nine studies examining (i) body weight changes, (ii) determinants of eating behaviour or (iii) weight-gain prevention interventions during festive periods were systematically reviewed. Of the 23 observational studies examining changes in body weight during festive periods, 70% found significant increases (mean 0.7 kg). Only four studies investigated exposure to food cues and overeating during these periods, with heterogeneous results. All six intervention studies found that weight gain can be mitigated by self-weighing/self-monitoring and intermittent fasting.


Interventions targeting festive periods could have a significant impact on population weight gain. The scalability and sustainability of such interventions require further investigation, as do the broader socioecological factors driving unhealthy eating during festive periods.

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Fig. 1


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Christina Zorbas.

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Conflict of Interest

CZ was supported by the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University. SN and JW are researchers within the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH) (APP1152968). The opinions, analysis, and conclusions in this paper are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the NHMRC. The funding sources had no role in the design or execution of this study.

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Zorbas, C., Reeve, E., Naughton, S. et al. The Relationship Between Feasting Periods and Weight Gain: a Systematic Scoping Review. Curr Obes Rep 9, 39–62 (2020).

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  • Obesity
  • Weight gain
  • Feasting
  • Holidays
  • Festive season