- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2021

This is what happens when you lockdown gyms, schools and force people to stay home — a whopping 42% of Americans have reported undesired weight gain during the coronavirus pandemic.

On average, Americans gained 29 pounds in the last year, with millennials putting on an extra 41 pounds, according to a new study from the American Psychological Association (APA). Men, on average, gained 37 pounds; women 22, pounds; and boomers, 16 pounds, according to the study. Only 18% of Americans reported an undesired weight loss during the timeframe.

For many states across the country, gyms and schools were closed down due to worries about coronavirus spread and are only now starting to reopen. In addition, sports leagues were canceled, families had to share tight quarters for both work and school, and many turned to alcohol and food to calm their anxieties. 

Weight gain was an unintended consequence of these draconian lockdown policies, which, ironically, makes people more susceptible to coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 78% of coronavirus hospitalizations were people who were overweight or obese.

“We’ve been concerned throughout this pandemic about the level of prolonged stress, exacerbated by the grief, trauma and isolation that Americans are experiencing. This survey reveals a secondary crisis that is likely to have persistent, serious mental and physical health consequences for years to come,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer in a statement. “Health and policy leaders must come together quickly to provide additional behavioral health supports as part of any national recovery plan.”

Not surprisingly, the emotional stress of the pandemic has hit parents of children under the age of 18 the hardest. Nearly half of mothers who still have children at home under remote learning said their mental health had worsened, and 30% of fathers said the same. Parents were more likely than those without children to have received treatment from a mental health professional, and nearly a quarter have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic began, the study found.

The survey was commissioned by the APA and was conducted in late-February by Harris Poll. It interviewed 3,013 Americans online who were 18 years and older.

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