No matter what the subject, you can’t go too far wrong recalling the words of Mark Twain.
That thought crossed my mind after reading results of a study completed at the University of Wisconsin.
Twain once wrote: “There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics.”
The particular number that made me think of Twain’s take on statistics came from Dale Schoeller, a professor emeritus who was explaining a review done on how much weight the average American gains over the holidays.
The study found that, despite incredible amounts of food and drinks consumed through Thanks-giving, Christmas and all the parties between, your normal person gains less than one pound over the holidays — 12.8 ounces, to be precise.
“Yup, it’s small,” Schoeller said, “but because it’s a large percentage (of what we gain during a full year), it’s not unimportant.”
And to most holiday celebrants, not even CLOSE to being correct.
LET’S ASK some local folk, people who enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving feast — and intend to keep on partying during this holiday season.
“One pound?” said Sherry Morris of Coeur d’Alene, who was heading into a spa. “That can’t be right.”
Morris offered her age, but gentlemen don’t print such things in a newspaper. Let’s just say she’s a little past Millennial.
“I’d say that I probably gain three to five pounds over the holidays,” she said, “and that’s watching to be sure I’m not going crazy.
“There’s no way anyone I know is going to gain just one pound — or even less — over the holiday season.”
Not only are there seemingly endless opportunities to load up on tasty food and alcohol at this time of year, it’s also more difficult to burn off those calories.
“It gets dark so early and it’s so cold, you’re not going to be doing anything outside,” offered Erika Willy, an elementary school teacher from Post Falls who moonlights at a frozen yogurt shop.
“You can’t even go out walking very often,” Willy said. “So much for some exercise walking the dog.
“I can’t believe that people only gain one pound over the holidays. That seems impossible.”
I blew through those 12.8 ounces with my first few forkfuls of stuffing during Thanksgiving dinner.
WHY DON’T we let an in-house expert assess the study that shocked us all?
Judd Jones is our health and fitness guru at The Press, and his column on those subjects is carried in more than a hundred papers.
So, Judd, does Schoeller’s conclusion make sense?
“It does, and it doesn’t,” Jones said. “I think you could do an accurate study that would produce those numbers, but he fudged things a little bit.
“For one thing, most people don’t realize that it takes some time to gain weight. You don’t just have a big night out and put on six pounds. Fat doesn’t build up at record speed.
“The window of time — just four weeks — isn’t enough to get a proper look at weight gain.”
A better time to see what sort of damage we’ve done might be at the end of January, right?
“More or less,” Jones said, “and here’s another statistic: About 80 percent of people who begin diets right after the New Year have failed by the end of February.”
I think I could warm up to Schoeller’s theory, frankly.
Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press. Follow A Brand New Day at facebook.com/BrandNewDayCDAPress. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org