Jan 29, 2021 - Research

Holiday Season Weight Trends 2020

Sports and workout equipment on a wooden floor with healthy snacks, weight loss and physical activity concept

23andMe Researchers analyzed weight measurements from 23andMe research participants in the weeks before, during, and after the Christmas holiday 2020.

For many of us, holiday weight gain is just another end of year tradition. 

But this year’s seasonal celebrations, like many things in 2020, were different. 

23andMe scientists wanted to know whether the annual tradition of gaining a few pounds over the holiday was any different this year. 

To do this our scientists analyzed daily weight measurements from about 1,000 23andMe customers who consented to participate in research and connected their mobile health data (Apple® Health, Google FitTM) to the 23andMe mobile app. 

This is what we learned about weight trends between Dec 14 to Jan 3. 


We avoid the scale on Christmas

Weigh-ins on Christmas day are lower compared to other days of the year, by about 15 percent.

It is easy to imagine why we might not step on the scale on Christmas: maybe we’re away from the scale and out of our normal routines, or we might just be trying to avoid receiving negative information. There’s a name for that, a behavioral phenomenon known as the Ostrich effect.  

On average people gain weight, but it’s not very much

In the days leading up to Christmas, weight measurements indicated that participants’ weight was relatively stable during that time. But on the days following Christmas, the data indicate that participants put on weight, about half a pound on average. That means that overall among the research participants in the study, there was more weight gained than lost in the few days after Christmas. 

The holiday aftermath 

It may be no surprise that we tend to gain weight over the holidays, but according to the data, it doesn’t stop at Christmas. 

Approximately half of the participants in the study (51 percent) showed an increase in weight during the week following Christmas, which includes New Year’s Day. Fifty-eight percent of males and 43 percent of females in the study logged weight increases during this week compared to their pre-Christmas weight. 

Weight increases seen after Christmas were moderate, around one or two pounds. Only a fraction of participants (about 18 percent) logged weight increases of two pounds or more. 

Closing the book on 2020 

All in all, the results of our analysis suggest that despite the chaos of 2020, the consequences of seasonal holiday indulgences seemed to continue as expected, although we may have tried to avoid them by not stepping on the scale. 

Getting ready for 2021

The new year is still young and it likely has a few more curveballs in store for us. But in terms of your health, 23andMe customers can start tracking data like steps, exercise, heart rate, and calories using the Lifestyle Dashboard in the 23andMe Apple and Android apps. To visit, look for the ‘Lifestyle Dashboard’ link on your app home tab, or under the health section. (Not yet a customer? Find out more here,)

Because even if we can’t predict what 2021 will bring for us, at least we can track it. 

Apple®, iPhone®, Apple Watch® are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.

©2020 Google LLC All rights reserved. Google FitTM is a trademark of Google LLC.

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