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3 Surprising Things That Could Be Expanding Your Waistline

It takes a lot of effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating healthy and being physically active. If you are already putting in the effort, and still can't see any quantifiable results, you may want to look into these 3 surprising causes of weight gain that may unknowingly be frustrating your attempts.

The World Health Organization reports that globally, 1.9 billion adults are overweight, 650 million are obese, and obesity has tripled since 1975. India has not been immune to this global weight problem. More than 28% of adults in India qualified as overweight based on the data from the National Family Health Survey. While a combination of exercise and a healthy diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight, studies have revealed a few surprising factors within everyday life that may have an impact on your waistline.

1. Traffic Sounds Can Drive Subconscious Stress-Eating

You might have read how loud music in restaurants triggers faster eating and making less-healthy meal choices. But, you probably did not know that traffic noises– regardless of whether or not they are actively noticed–can also induce excessive eating. According to a 4-year study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, people's waistlines increased by almost 1 centimeter per 10-decibel rise in traffic noise. To put things into perspective, 10-decibels is roughly equivalent to the sound of someone breathing. Furthermore, people exposed to airplane noise in a follow-up study experienced a 6cm increase in waist size.

According to scientists, this sound-reactive overeating is a type of displacement activity, distracting from environmental stress. While it may be hard to avoid traffic and plane noise altogether, there are a few ways to lessen the impact. If you're thinking about moving, consider steering clear of noisy neighborhoods. However, if you're already settled, consider soundproofing your house. A few easy fixes include adding a seal to the bottom of your door and buying sound block curtains. Comprehensive solutions include installing false ceilings, laminating or double-glazing windows, and getting floated insulated walls installed. These options are on the pricier side as they involve some renovation, but financing can be facilitated by a personal loan.

Soundproofing MeasureApproximate Cost
Acoustic Door Seal₹250-₹1,000
Sound Block Curtain₹2,500 per pair
Laminated Windows₹6,000/sq feet
Double-Glazed Windows₹500-₹2000/sq feet
Floated, Insulated Walls₹450-₹800/sq feet
Insulated False Ceiling₹120-₹125/sq feet

2. Blue Light from Smartphones Can Build Up Your Blood Sugar

The light that our bodies are exposed to has a significant impact on our hormone production, sleeping behavior, and metabolism. This is especially true for blue light, which is an artificial light emitted by electronics such as computers, tablets, laptops, and smartphones. According to a study by Northwestern Medicine, exposure to blue light (including while eating) may increase insulin resistance and lead to higher blood sugar levels. This build-up is linked to increased body fat, weight gain, and a higher risk of getting diabetes. This is especially alarming, given that Indians spend an average of about 10 hours per day on digital devices.

The good thing is that people now have greater control over their exposure to blue light. iPhones, as well as Android devices, come with built-in options in their settings to shift the screen's color temperature. Additionally, there are various Blue Light Apps available to download. However, factory settings on devices remain blue and bright so consumers need to remember to make the changes. It is also a good idea to monitor and reduce one’s screen time--both, iOS and Android let users track their screen time and even block the device if they have reached their daily limit. Time off-screen can be spent doing something worthwhile like reading a book or spending time with friends and family.

3. Post-Workout Snacking Can Contribute to Weight Gain

Regular exercise brings with it several benefits from enhancing energy, stamina, and mood to improving blood pressure. The emergence of fitness subscriptions has made working out dynamic and convenient. However, it's not as good of a weight loss tool as you might think. According to obesity researchers, physical activity (which includes all kinds of movement, not just exercise) accounts only for 10–30% of calories burned within a day. This is a relatively low percentage, and its effect decreases when taking into account compensatory mechanisms. According to research, people tend to eat more and slow down after leaving the gym, which offsets the calories burned with unconscious adjustments.

Of course, exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but without being conscious of food intake, all progress can be lost easily–and may potentially be eclipsed. It's only natural to feel hungrier than usual after a hard workout. Consider stocking up on groceries such as fresh fruits and vegetables–they're often full of fiber and lower in calories, which unsurprisingly is filling. You may also want to consider moderate exercise, with continued movement throughout the day–this can help to tackle potential 'slowdowns' while enhancing your overall metabolism.

Fitness SubscriptionPrice
Fitato₹2,199 per month (unlimited access)
FitternityStarts at ₹350 per session
Class Pass₹3,549 (30 credits; 7 classes)

Conclusion

Daily life can be chaotic, stressful, and hectic, which makes it easy to fall into unhealthy patterns. Simple lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, keeping active, and getting enough sleep are crucial to staying in shape. A few minor adjustments may also make an impact–whether you're willing to spend on a few home fixes or to take a break from screen time, you could very well benefit.

Duckju Kang

Duckju is the CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital.