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50% of doctors gained “pandemic weight”

While quarantining in place was meant to keep us healthy and safe, there are real side effects emerging. In addition to the mental health toll, a new study suggests that adults gained an average of two pounds a month. 

According to the New York Times, “Soon after the pandemic started over a year ago, Americans started joking about the dreaded ‘quarantine 15,’ worried they might gain weight while shut in homes with stockpiles of food, glued to computer screens and binge-watching Netflix.

The concern is real, but assessing the problem’s scope has been a challenge…Now a very small study using objective measures — weight measurements from Bluetooth-connected smart scales — suggests that adults under shelter-in-place orders gained more than half a pound every 10 days.

That translates to nearly two pounds a month, said Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, senior author of the research letter, published on Monday in the peer-reviewed JAMA Network Open. Americans who kept up their lockdown habits could easily have gained 20 pounds over the course of a year, he added.

‘We know that weight gain is a public health problem in the U.S. already, so anything making it worse is definitely concerning, and shelter-in-place orders are so ubiquitous that the sheer number of people affected by this makes it extremely relevant,’ said Dr. Marcus, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco…

An earlier study by U.C.S.F. researchers looked at daily step counts, as tracked by smartphones, among nearly half a million people in nearly 200 countries. The number of steps people took declined by 27 percent a month after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic.

The concern about exercise also extends to children, who are known to pack on unhealthy pounds during the summer recess months when they are not in school. The risk is even greater for Hispanic and Black children than for white children, said Andrew G. Rundle, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, author of a recent paper that expressed concern that school closings would exacerbate existing racial health disparities.

‘We argued that being out of school, which we thought would go on for six months and has gone on longer, was going to be like the summer recess but even worse, because everyone would be loading up on shelf-stable calorie-laden food, and staying indoors and not going out,’ he said. ‘Everything that makes the summer dangerous for kids would be magnified by the lockdown.’”

In a poll of 260+ global Sermo physicians, 48% revealed they gained weight during the pandemic; and 47% said they have exercised less due to the pandemic. 

When asked about their patients, 91% said their patients experienced pandemic weight gain and 93% believe the overall pandemic weight gain could have real consequences for an already existing public health problem.

Here’s more of what Sermo physicians have to say on this topic:

With the closure of gyms, the concern about going out for a run in the open air, has personally reduced my exercise routine

General Practice (GP)

Before I didn’t work out, because I went to restaurants, movies, shopping & everything else. With pandemic I work out on my free time.

Pediatrics (excluding surgery)

I see my diabetic patients with very marked weight gains and despite treatments to help them lose it. They have eaten a lot of things they shouldn’t and poor responses to treatment

General Practice (GP)

I lost 10 lbs as went to all telehealth at home due to age and health and so away from the office snacks. Also able to eat dinner around 6-7 PM instead of 9-10 PM and then going to bed. Doing the same amt of exercise but sitting at the computer all day instead of walking from room to room. Many of our pediatric patients have gained the COVID 19 lbs and too many have gained 40-50 lbs in a year’s time.

Pediatrics (excluding surgery)