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Study Finds Lockdown Weight Gain Is Real

Small study found participants gained an average 0.6 pounds every 10 days
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2021 2:59 PM CDT
Updated Mar 27, 2021 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Good thing stretchy pants aren't visible on Zoom. For many Americans, buttoning one's jeans has gotten increasingly harder during the pandemic, and researchers have now estimated just how many pounds people under shelter-in-place orders tended to gain. The research letter, published Monday in JAMA Network Open, opens by explaining 45 US states put such orders in place from March 19, 2020 to April 6, 2020. To get a sense of the impact of that period, researchers used data from a heart study in which 269 participants weighed themselves using Bluetooth-connected smart scales between Feb. 1 and June 1 of that year. They found that during the shelter-in-place period, people gained an average 0.6 pounds every 10 days, "irrespective of geographic location or comorbidities."

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Senior author Dr. Gregory M. Marcus tells the New York Times that Americans who have maintained the habits of lockdown over the past year could have packed on 20 pounds. And all these numbers may be low, he says, because the participants had actually been losing weight prior to lockdown. "It's reasonable to assume these individuals are more engaged with their health in general, and more disciplined and on top of things," says Marcus. "That suggests we could be underestimating—that this is the tip of the iceberg." UPI cites a recent survey from the American Psychological Association of more than 3,000 adults that somewhat jibes with these findings: 42% reported experiencing an undesired weight gain, with the average gain clocking in at 29 pounds. But 18% reported an undesired weight loss, with the average there being 26 pounds. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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