COLUMBIA, Mo. – Holiday weight gain is the gift that keeps on giving.

Putting on an extra couple pounds over the holidays may not sound like much, but those pounds can add up over the years, says University of Missouri Extension nutritionist Donna Mehrle.

“While 2-4 pounds is not too bad, most Americans do not lose that weight,” she says. “So after five years the amount is 10-20 pounds, enough to affect their health.”

If you don’t want your belly to wiggle like Santa’s, you can sign up for the 2015 “Eat Smart, Move More—Maintain, don’t gain!” holiday challenge.

Mehrle says she has participated in the program for several years and found it helpful. The free program, which runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, was developed by a team of public health experts, researchers and extension specialists in North Carolina.

The holiday challenge offers weekly e-newsletters, daily tips and healthy recipes for the holidays. Participants can download and print activity and weight logs and a food journal to track their progress. The website also offers tips for workplace challenges.

Sign up at

For more information from MU Extension on avoiding holiday weight gain, go to

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