Many have gained weight during the pandemic. Is there is a link between obesity and COVID-19.
Struggling with weight gain during the pandemic? You’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 61% of American adults say they have experienced undesired weight changes, including weight gain, in the last year. In a cruel twist, people who are overweight are more likely to develop serious illness if they get COVID-19.
The so-called “quarantine 15” (a spin on the “freshman 15” that refers to college freshmen gaining an average of 15 pounds) is real, although the typical average gained during these COVID-19 pandemic months is closer to 29 pounds.
Reasons for weight gain during lockdown and isolation:
- Altered eating patterns
- Stress- or boredom-related snacking or bingeing
- Decreased access to gyms and other physical activities
- Hormonal changes due to stress, such as cortisol increase
Obesity is categorized as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Overweight is considered a BMI of 25 to 29. Although it is a ratio of weight to height and doesn’t directly measure body fat, BMI is usually a reasonable indictor of overall body fat.
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Weight can make it worse
“Obesity is tied to many other conditions — such as diabetes, high blood pressure, decreased lung function and sleep apnea — that can make getting any illness worse for someone who is of a higher body weight,” said Benjamin D. Tanner, M.D., bariatric surgeon with Norton Surgical Specialists. “These other conditions often create inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury, where the body releases chemicals to signal repair of tissue. So, diseases such as COVID-19 can be worse if you are already in a state of chronic low-level inflammation.”
What to do
If you’ve gained weight during the pandemic, take comfort in the fact that there are things you can start doing today to turn things around.
“It’s important to know that you aren’t the only one,” Dr. Tanner said. “Give yourself a break and make some tweaks to your routine.”
- Get moving: Exercise makes a huge impact on mood and mental health, and even a little bit can be a benefit. Walk around the block, check YouTube for workouts or simply do some stretching.
- Mindful eating: You need to be aware of what you’re eating and how much. Tracking your meals and snacks is a good way to get the big picture. You can make dietary changes as you see your own patterns emerge.
- Prioritize sleep: Most of us don’t get enough shut-eye, and lack of sleep is connected to higher body weight. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. Work on winding down without screens, creating a good sleep environment and try to awaken the same time every day.