If you think you’ve gained weight during the pandemic, you’re probably not alone.
The first few months of the pandemic, when almost all of us were locked down, glued to our screens and worrying about when things might get better, it was easy to accept that sedentary behavior and a nearby fridge might lead to weight gain.
But health experts were having a tough time figuring out if being stuck at home — and, in many cases, breaking regular exercise routines — had brought on more weight in some people. Under any conditions, conducting a survey is challenging because people often lie about their weight. In addition, there have been fewer visits to doctors’ offices during the pandemic, curtailing those as a possible source of data.
But a small study published this week in the online JAMA Network Open points to the likelihood that Americans who stayed in lockdown mode could have gained 20 pounds over the course of a year.
The data used weight measurements from Bluetooth-connected smart scales from 269 participants who were involved in an ongoing cardiology study, the Health eHeart Study, so it’s too small and narrow in scope to be generalized. The researched studied weight measurements taken between Feb. 1 and June 1, 2020, to look at weight changes before and after shelter-in-place orders were issued.
The results found that many participants had been losing pounds before the orders were issued, but they gained weight at a rate of about six-tenths of a pound every 10 days after the orders were issued. It didn’t matter what part of the country they lived in or whether they had any chronic medical conditions.
The lockdowns affected what people ate and how often they ate, while restricting what might seem like routine physical activity — running to the commuter train, walking to the post office or cruising the grocery store aisles — where we burn a lot of calories.
The data looks only at that period immediately before and after the lockdowns. Once the restrictions were loosened and people ventured outside again, it’s possible they tipped the scales the other way, so to speak.
— The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.)