Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?
This question intrigued researchers. So, they examined patient data from electronic health records. Specifically, they looked at 15 million patients’ weight changes the year prior to the start of the pandemic, and then weight change for one year over the course of the pandemic. As it turns out, 39% of patients gained weight during the pandemic, with weight gain defined as above the normal fluctuation of 2.5 pounds. Approximately 27% gained less than 12.5 pounds and about 10% gained more than 12.5 pounds, with 2% gaining over 27.5 pounds.
Whether you gained or lost weight during quarantine, you are not alone
Where do we go from here? If you gained weight during quarantine, you have an opportunity to change your habits and work to follow the six pillars of lifestyle medicine (exercise, healthy eating, sound sleep, social connections, stress resilience, and avoiding risky substance use) to help you lose weight, improve your health, and enhance your sense of well-being. Here are ways to avoid slow weight gain over the years.
- Move your body in a fun way every day. Work to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Find a workout buddy you can check in with each day or week.
- Eat more plants. Vegetables have phytonutrients that help to fight disease, and fiber that helps to feed the microbiome in your gut that ferments the fiber into short-chain fatty acids like acetate, butyrate, and propionate, which in turn help with regulating your metabolism and your immune system.
- Sit less. Make sure to get up off your chair every hour and move around. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, get up every half hour.
- Eat fewer processed foods. Don’t buy them. Try to eat foods that don’t come in a package or a can.