If Covid-19 made you a chubby bubby, this is what you must do!

Published on: 6 March 2022, 13:00 pm IST
Here are some reasons you have gained more fat during the Covid-19 pandemic while dampening your weight loss dreams.
Dr Smitha Jain
Has Covid-19 nudged you into the overweight category? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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About 800 million people around the world are above their weight which is 13 percent of the adult population. Being overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the body. For the Asian population, a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 23 is considered overweight, and a BMI of more than 25 is considered obese. Shockingly, obesity has grown to an epidemic proportion across the world during Covid-19. Yes, weight gain during Covid-19 has been for real for many people.

The surge in pandemic-imposed lockdowns led to changing lifestyle patterns. Being sedentary and consuming calorie-dense food became the primary reasons for weight gain. Eating more and moving less creates an imbalance in energy homeostasis leading to fat accumulation. Putting on some extra kilos leads to many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, NAFLD (Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) and OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea).

How did Covid-19 cause people to gain weight?

The prevalence of obesity skyrocketed during Covid-19 because people could not go out of home, life went forcefully into a sedentary mode. Even people who were regularly exercising were home-bound. Many suffered from stress, fear, insomnia, which manifested through irregular eating patterns, such as binge eating, overeating, all leading to a pot belly.

But, it’s not all gloom. There are steps, which can be taken to reduce obesity. Lifestyle modifications, eating more of nutrient-dense food like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds is more beneficial in preventing obesity.

Following these tips will make you lose weight! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are some ways you can stick to your weight loss journey if you gained weight during Covid-19 pandemic:

  1. Avoiding or limiting processed meats, added sugars, refined grains etc.
  2. Healthy eating patterns, like proper chewing, mindful eating can ensure weight loss too.
  3. Engaging in physical activity. The World Health Organization recommends all adults should do a minimum of more than 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity of aerobic activity.
  4. At least 2 days of strength /resistance training in a week.
  5. Sleeping 7–8 hours every night. Sleep is very essential for overall health. Sleep deprivation leads to increased risk of obesity and other chronic lifestyle diseases.
  6. Due to hormonal imbalance, one may experience raised cortisol, ghrelin, and reduced leptin. Regular hormonal checks need to be followed.
Practice mindful eating during Covid-19 pandemic. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Living by the famous quote from Hippocrates, “Let the food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, would create a life enriched with health and wellness.
Stress management also plays a vital role in improving our health during the Covid-19 pandemic. Simple steps like adopting an attitude of gratitude, finding purpose in life, treating problematic circumstances as a learning process, can create enough positivity to beat stress and ward-off many lifestyle disorders.

Even though weight gain at its most basic level seems straightforward, with caloric intake exceeding the calories burned, obesity as a disease is far more complex than passive accumulation of body fat. Among many other factors, hormonal regulation, genetic predisposition, developmental exposures, environmental or social influence may also contribute to obesity.

Despite our hectic life, we should all prioritize health and dedicate some time to exercise and get preventive health screenings done to ensure a fit body.

Dr Smitha Jain

General Medicine, SIMS Hospital, Vadapalani, Chennai.

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