Weight Gain A Side Effect Of Pandemic Stress For Many People

Many people are adding numbers to the scales as a side effect of staying at home, being stressed and sedentary during the pandemic. Michele Gile reports.

Video Transcript

SUZIE SUH: Well, it's been one year since the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began, and a new study shows how some people packed on the pounds.

JUAN FERNANDEZ: KCAL 9 Orange County reporter Michele Gile looks at some of the pandemic's health effects.

MICHELE GILE: Swimsuit season during a pandemic can add an extra layer of stress for those who've eaten their way through the last 12 months.

- Probably only 10 pounds, I think.

- So you're just bringing food from home and you're constantly sitting and getting up and you're just eating, eating, eating.

MICHELE GILE: Doctors found that some Americans have put on 2 pounds a month during quarantine. One small study of 300 people with an average age of 51 suggests that as they were locked inside with freezers filled with food and parked in front of computers and TVs their eating habits and physical activity changed.

VICTORIA DARCOURT: You can't see your family or your friends. You get depressed. So people will turn to food for comfort and if you don't do anything about it, you're bound to gain weight.

MICHELE GILE: That's spot on, says this Orange County weight-loss surgeon.

DR. MIR ALI: For most people I think it's just being bored at home. The fridge is right there. You don't have much else to do. Being sitting, being inactive. But primarily it's the increased consumption of calories.

MICHELE GILE: But there were some winners, or maybe we should call them losers. More time at home and less rushing around was actually beneficial for many people. Some say that the numbers on the scale actually went down, not up, during the pandemic.

CASEY PICKARD: I've always had time to work out. I just made the decision that if this virus is what it is then I should probably get my body in the best health I can in case I get it.

MICHELE GILE: 50 pounds down. That's Crystal Elliott's pandemic story. Her pastor encouraged his congregation to take care of themselves.

CRYSTAL ELLIOTT: So I feel like not having to work as much because we couldn't it really gave me the time to focus on my health. So I did well and I'm still doing well.

MICHELE GILE: In Newport Beach, Michele Gile, KCAL 9 News.