Have you noticed how many more people are wearing sweatpants, yoga pants or leggings instead of jeans these days? If you have, or are among those who have made the switch, it is a growing trend. According to one market report, jean sales have been declining for the last three years while sales of “active pants” have been on the rise.
What you also may have noticed is that not everyone wearing athletic attire looks like they spend a lot of time in the gym. Do you suspect that their trendy new attire has made them gain weight?
My guess is that while it’s nice to be in fashion, the elastic waist bands and stretchy fabrics are very forgiving for anyone who has put on a few pounds and doesn’t want to buy bigger clothes.
This observation reminded me of another common misperception that isn’t as easily debunked. Many people believe that diet drinks can lead to weight gain because so many of the people who regularly drink them are overweight. But what we really should be asking is, which came first — the excess weight or the diet drink?
While there may be an association between wearing yoga pants or drinking diet beverages and being overweight, the behavior didn’t cause the problem. Overweight people may simply be more comfortable wearing yoga pants and may drink diet beverages to help them reduce their caloric intake.
There is no evidence of cause and effect here.
That’s an important point to keep in mind whenever you see headlines that proclaim an association, correlation, relationship or link between a population and a particular behavior or food choice. So if you happen to drink diet soda or wear sweatpants, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And if that active wear makes it easier to get more exercise, that’s even better!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.`