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Survey: Majority of US adults have gained or lost more weight in pandemic than desired

Body Fat Things to Know
Posted at 12:59 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 13:04:03-04

A survey of U.S. adults conducted in late February shows a majority, 61%, experienced undesired weight changes since the pandemic started.

The American Psychological Association survey led by The Harris Poll found 42% of the 3,013 adults sampled reported gaining more weight than they intended.

Of those who say they put on more weight than they wanted, the poll found they gained an average of 29 pounds and 10% said they gained more than 50 pounds.

For the 18% of Americans who said they lost more weight than they wanted to, the average amount of weight lost was 26 pounds.

Adults also reported unwanted changes in sleep and increased alcohol consumption. About 67% said they have been sleeping more or less than desired since the pandemic started. Nearly 23% reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress.

The pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on parents of children under 18. While slightly more than 31% reported their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, about 47% of mothers who still have children home for remote learning reported their mental health has worsened, while 30% of fathers in the same situation said the same.

More than half of fathers, 55%, reported gaining weight, and nearly half, 48%, said they are drinking more alcohol to cope with stress.

Overall, Americans are hesitant about the future, regardless of vaccination status. Nearly half of respondents said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends. Adults who received a COVID-19 vaccine were just as likely as those who had not received a vaccine to say this, 48% vs. 49%, respectively.