While some Iowans pack on the pounds during the holiday season, a study finds the perceived weight gain is -not- that big a problem. Ruth Litchfield, an Iowa State University Extension nutritionist, says the study results were somewhat surprising. She says a group of about 200 people were weighed six weeks before, during and after the holiday season and the average weight gain was zero-point-eight pounds — not quite a full pound. Litchfield says some people -did- gain a lot of weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, but overall, the average weight gain was minimal. Still, she says the results of this study should -not- be interpreted as an excuse to stuff yourself with holiday goodies.The researchers found only two factors influenced weight gain: level of hunger and level of activity. Litchfield says the holiday season has changed in recent years as people become more health-conscious, as they’ve become less food laden and include more activities.Litchfield suggests planning holiday celebrations around activities. Start a family tradition of ice skating, sledding or skiing. Park and walk to view neighborhood lighting displays instead of riding around in your car. Also, she says to never skip meals before or after a big celebration, as this creates a famine-feast-famine cycle. To prevent overeating, drink a large glass of water before you eat, don’t stand near a food-laden table, place food on a plate rather than eating straight from the buffet and don’t eat while standing.