42% of Americans report undesired weight gain during COVID pandemic and lockdowns

A new survey by the American Psychological Association shows that 42% of Americans reported undesired weight gain during the COVID pandemic, while 6 in 10 U.S. adults (61%) reported any undesired weight change.

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The APA’s Stress in America™ pandemic survey seen below summarizes the findings. Undesired weight gain has largely outpaced undesired weight loss.

According to the CDC, obesity “is serious because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. Obesity is also associated with the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.”

Slightly More Than 6 in 10 U.S. Adults (61%) Report Undesired Weight Change Since Start of Pandemic

The CDC lists obesity’s possible health consequences as the following:

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Many types of cancers external icon
  • Low quality of life
  • Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders8,9
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning

While the efficacy of COVID lockdowns has been increasingly questioned by reputable studies,  the weight gain caused by the lockdowns and the decrease in mobility for numerous American adults could lead to complications for some in the future.

The APA’s breakdown of the undesired weight change by category is as follows:

U.S. adults

18% of U.S. adults report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 26 lbs. 42% of U.S. adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 29 lbs.

Men

20% of men report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 25 lbs. 39% of men report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 37 lbs.

Women

17% of women report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 27 lbs. 45% of women report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 22 lbs.

Gen Z adults (ages 18–24)

22% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 22 lbs. 52% of Gen Z adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 lbs.

Millennials (ages 25–42)

22% of Millennials report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 26 lbs. 48% of Millennials report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 41 lbs.

Xers (ages 43–56)

17% of Xers report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 24 lbs. 41% of Xers report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 21 lbs.

Boomers (ages 57–75)

14% of Boomers report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 26 lbs. 37% of Boomers report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 16 lbs.

Older adults (ages 76+)

5% of older adults report undesired weight loss and 25% report undesired weight gain. There was an insufficient sample size of older adults to report average pounds of unwanted weight loss or gain.

White adults

17% of White adults report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 22 lbs. 42% of White adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 30 lbs.

Hispanic adults

25% of Hispanic adults report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 27 lbs. 46% of Hispanic adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 28 lbs.

Black adults

22% of Black adults report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 38 lbs. 42% of Black adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 35 lbs.

Asian adults

16% of Asian adults report undesirable weight loss; there was an insufficient sample size to report average pounds lost. 38% of Asian adults report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 12 lbs.

Parents

22% of parents report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 29 lbs. 51% of parents report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 36 lbs.

Essential workers

24% of essential workers report undesired weight loss, with an average weight loss of 30 lbs. 50% of essential workers report undesired weight gain, with an average gain of 38 lbs.

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