Battling the COVID15

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Just when students are starting or returning to college, a time when many may pick up the infamous “freshman15”, people around the country are dealing with COVID15- those unwanted pounds that have crept on during the pandemic.

COVID19 provided the perfect recipe of risk factors for weight gain. The closure of fitness centers, employment uncertainty, lockdown, limited access to the grocery, an uptick in baking combined with the stress and anxiety of getting the virus, sent many people to their frig and pantry to stress eat. A hefty dose of insomnia at night and daytime boredom isn’t helping either.

According to a survey of Web MD readers, nearly 50% of women and 22% of men reported weight gain since the viral shutdown. Among U.S. readers who estimated their gain:

  • 15% said they gained 1-3 pounds.
  • 34% said they gained 4-6 pounds.
  • 26% said they gained 7-9 pounds.
  • 21% said they gained 10-20 pounds.
  • 4% said they gained 21 pounds or more.

A good majority (72%) of those surveyed identified lack of exercise as the cause of their weight gain, while nearly the same (70%) stated stress eating was the cause. Nearly 60% blamed both limited physical activity and stress eating as culprits, while over 20% cited increased alcohol intake as the etiology of their weight gain. 1 Clearly, those “quarantinis” aren’t helping anyone.

While a 15 lb. gain may not seem like much, it may easily raise blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels in addition to the risk of cancer. It may also increase inflammation- making conditions like heart disease and arthritis worse. 2

Experts also note that overweight and obese individuals are at increased risk for complications of COVID19.  For individuals with chronic underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma, weight gain is an unwelcome risk factor. 3

The next few weeks we’ll be covering tips and tricks to battle the COVID15. Here’s a few ways to start:

  1. Keep a food diary. This will give you an idea of what, when and how much food you’re eating. If you bite it, write it.
  2. Track your weight. While noticing that your pants are getting tight is a good sign that you’re gaining weight, getting on a scale once a week may help prevent further gain.
  3. What’s your why? Jot down your reason for weight loss. Ideally- it’s something that will keep you motivated. Preventing diabetes, having more energy or fitting into your current wardrobe are examples.


Check back next week for more tips!

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD


  2. Smith KB, Smith MS. Obesity Statistics. Prim Care. 2016;43(1):121-ix. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2015.10.001

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