As much as I don’t like to admit it, I have gained weight over the past year. Blame it on the stress of living through a global pandemic, lockdown, or working from home, but this past year has not been kind to my waistline. It began early during the lockdown when I started baking. I love to bake, but I really started baking — a lot. Normally, these baked goods would have been distributed to office mates, friends, and family, but with only 3 of us at home, they were consumed by me, myself, and I.
I am not alone. There are lots of anecdotal reports of people putting on the “COVID 15” — that is, 15 pounds. As more and more Americans become vaccinated and begin to emerge from isolation, we are going to need help getting back in shape and losing weight.
Unfortunately, the global pandemic coincided with an obesity crisis already well-established in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the adult obesity prevalence has been increasing yearly from 30.5% in 2017-2018 to 42.4% in 2019-2020; the prevalence of severe obesity has increased from 4.7% to 9.2% during these periods.
The CDC’s 2019 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps show that 12 states have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The maps also break down adult obesity prevalence by race and ethnicity: 34 states and the District of Columbia had an obesity prevalence ≥35% among non-Hispanic Black adults; 15 states had an obesity prevalence ≥35% among Hispanic adults; and 6 states had an obesity prevalence ≥35% among non-Hispanic White adults.
According to the CDC, these disparities underscore the need to remove barriers to healthy living and ensure that communities support a well-balanced, active lifestyle for all. Even a small amount of weight loss can have a significant impact on one’s health and help prevent or manage chronic diseases that worsen outcomes from COVID-19. As we emerge from our self-isolation, let’s encourage patients to make small changes in their lives to improve their health.
Nikki Kean, Director
The Clinical Advisor