Sheltering in place has been an effective way to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but weight gain has often been an unintended consequence. Chances are, extra pounds accumulated slowly, but they add up.
One study at the University of California San Francisco tracked 269 people in 37 different states using bathroom scales connected by Bluetooth for an objective measure of weight changes. It found that between February and June of 2020, the average weight gain among study participants was about 1.5 pounds per month. Although that may not sound like much, it accumulates over time: 6 pounds in 4 months, for example, and moreover a longer period.
A survey of 3,000 Americans by the American Psychological Association found that in the year following the first lockdown in March 2020, more than two in five people gained weight. Fifteen pounds was a typical gain—the so-called “pandemic 15”—but some people gained more.
Pandemic Weight-Gain Drivers
To get an objective view of the drivers of pandemic weight gain, researchers at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix surveyed 1,200 people via Facebook during a peak lockdown period in 2020. They concluded that these were major weight-gain contributors:
Eating in response to stress, rather than hunger.
Being prompted to eat by the appearance and smell of food.
Snacking after dinner.
Being less physically active.
Lack of sleep.
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