It can be hard enough to maintain a healthy diet with plenty of physical activity. More than ⅓ of adults in Singapore are qualified as overweight in the MOH’s most recent National Population Health Survey. Recently, studies have uncovered a few surprising factors within everyday life that could have an impact on your waistline.
1. Traffic Sounds Can Drive Subconscious Stress-Eating
Quite a few articles have already covered how loud music in restaurants can trigger faster eating and less-healthy meal choices. What’s less mentioned, however, is that the traffic noises – whether actively noticed or not – can induce excessive eating beyond fullness.
In fact, a 4-year study by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden revealed that people’s waistlines increased by nearly 1 cm per 10-decibel rise in traffic noise. To put this into perspective, 10-decibels is roughly equivalent to the sound of falling leaves. People exposed to airplane noise in a follow-up study experienced a 6cm increase in waist size!
Scientists explain this sound-reactive overeating as a displacement activity, distracting from environmental stress.
2. Blue Light from Smartphones Can Build Up Your Blood Sugar
The light our bodies are exposed to has a strong impact on our sleeping behavior, hormone production, and metabolism. This is especially true with blue light – an artificial light emitted by electronics like computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Research by Northwestern Medicine has shown that exposure to such light (including while eating) can increase insulin resistance and cause higher blood sugar levels. This build-up, in turn, is linked to increased body fat, weight gain and a greater risk of diabetes. This is especially alarming, given Singaporeans spend an average of over 12 hours per day on digital devices, mostly on their mobile phone.
Fortunately, consumers now have greater control over their exposure to blue light. Both iPhones and Android devices, for example, have built-in options in their settings that shift the screen’s colour temperature – the factory settings are blue and bright. There is also a variety of Blue Light Apps available on the marketplace. It’s also worthwhile to spend more time off-screen, whether by reading a book or just spending time with friends and family.
3. Post-Workout Snacking Can Contribute to Weight Gain
Regular exercise has an incredible number of benefits, from boosting energy and mood to improving blood pressure. You see more and more gyms popping up all over Singapore, offering everything from jiujitsu to kickboxing and aerial yoga.
Nonetheless, it’s not as powerful of a weight loss tool as you might think. According to obesity researchers, physical activity (which includes all kinds of movement, not just exercise) only accounts for 10–30% of calories burned within a day. Research shows that people tend to eat more and slow down after leaving the gym, offsetting calories burned with unconscious adjustments.
Exercising is key to a healthy lifestyle, but without remaining conscious of food intake, all progress can be easily lost – and potentially, eclipsed. It’s only natural that after a hard workout, you may feel hungrier than usual. You might consider moderate exercise, with continued movement throughout the day to help to combat potential ‘slow downs’ while boosting your overall metabolism.
This article first appeared on ValueChampion.