Study finds majority of adults experienced changes in weight during the pandemic

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 61 percent of adults experienced weight gain or loss since the beginning of the pandemic.

Experts say depending on how much you lose or gain, it is not always a positive effect on the body, making some more vulnerable to serious illness from the coronavirus.

The APA’s chief executive officer, Arthur C Evans Jr. Ph.D., says the prolonged stress of the pandemic is concerning.

“This survey reveals a secondary crisis that is likely to have persistent, serious mental and physical health consequences for years to come,” Dr. Evans said.

Kathy Berger is an outpatient registered dietitian at Augusta Health. Berger says weight gain can increase the risk for health diseases.

“Diabetes, hypertension, things like that. The statistics that are coming out say people with diabetes, hypertension, and other health problems, are much more likely to have much more severe effects if they contract the coronavirus than those that don’t,” Berger explained.

The study also points out that the “majority of essential workers (54 percent), such as health care workers and people who work in law enforcement, said they have relied on a lot of unhealthy habits to get through the pandemic.”

“The stress plays a huge part in it. The other thing is most of us have ways to compensate for stress. Often those ways that we compensate for stress, don’t always include healthy eating,” Berger said.

Other findings from those who participated in the study suggest:

  • 47 percent of mothers who have children at home learning remote have reported their mental health has worsened, 30 percent of fathers with children at home said the same
  • More than half of fathers (55 percent) have reported gaining weight and 48 percent of fathers said they are drinking more alcohol to cope with stress.
  • 29 percent of essential workers in the study say their mental health has worsened and 75 percent say they could have used more emotional support since the pandemic began

Berger says some of the best ways to deal with the stress of the pandemic is to get enough sleep and be more physically active.

“Just getting out and taking a short walk every day can be one of your best stress management tools to help you manage the stress better,” Berger said. “Realize that this is a phase, this something we are going through and hopefully it is not going to last forever. Keep a positive outlook and look at what you’re grateful for.”

To read the full study on how the pandemic has affected most adults when it comes to physical and mental health, click here.

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