The Real Reason You're Gaining Weight During The Pandemic

You may have seen the phrases "quarantine 19" and "Covid curves" pop up on social media, as more people reveal their extra pandemic pounds. Many lives have been drastically altered since March of 2020 when most of the lockdowns began. Gyms, restaurants, schools, and jobs shut down, essentially causing added stress while putting a pause on life. 

A poll out of the University of Missouri showed a significant decrease in exercise and a rise in snacking during the pandemic, both of which can lead to weight gain. A global survey from WebMd reports weight gain from one to over 20 pounds within the first two months of the pandemic. WebMD reports that 59 percent of participants admit that lack of exercise and high stress contributed to their weight gain, and 21 percent believe it was an increase in alcohol consumption.

A recent global study by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana found that the lockdowns led to significant lifestyle changes, where many people had a severe reduction in physical activity and found themselves eating more junk food. The research reports that many of the participants admitted to indulging in their favorite snacks, desserts, and drinks (via NY Times).

A surprising culprit of weight gain

The study of over 7,000 participants found an initial weight increase in 27 percent of the group, with 20 percent reporting extreme anxiety, and 44 percent reporting disrupted sleep. Another study of about 1,200 people published in the Obesity Research & Clinical Practice Journal found that 22 percent of the group gained between 5 and 10 pounds during the first few months of the pandemic. The study showed over-eating was in response to stress, as well as lack of exercise, and late night snacking.

John Morton, MD, MPH, MHA, claims that many tele-health patients have recorded weight gain of up to 30 pounds (via Yale Medicine). Dr. Morton says, "we are definitely seeing weight gain ... you can put on 30 pounds really quickly — you can do it in three months." He also states that stress is a primary factor in weight gain, due to the body naturally holding onto calories under high-stress circumstances.