Pandemic shows risk of obesity, and challenge of weight loss

Health & FitnessWeight-Loss

  • Author Charlles Almeida
  • Published June 28, 2021
  • Word count 786

Jennifer Bergin was already obese and pre-diabetic prior to the pandemic, and the discovery that she also had high blood pressure made her fearful of how sick she would become with COVID-19. She started walking three hours a day and lost 60 pounds.

Bergin, a 50-year-old Charlotte resident, said, "I just knew I was a strong target for having it and not recovering." She is no longer obese at 170 pounds and 5 feet, 4 inches tall, but she would like to continue to improve her health.

Obesity and related illnesses, such as diabetes, have been identified as risk factors for severe COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. It was another reminder of the numerous underlying health conditions typically associated with obesity, as well as how difficult it may be to maintain weight loss over time. Despite the dangers, it's unclear how prevalent Bergin's extreme weight loss is.

Countless people of all sizes have gained or lost weight as a result of the pandemic across the country. For some, such as Bergin, not having to go to work meant more time for walking, less dining out, and more control over what she ate.

Others, however, found that being stuck at home meant moving less and eating more as a result of stress, worry, despair, or simply being close to the kitchen.

According to Karen H. Yeary, an obesity researcher at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y., the range of weight fluctuations highlights the intricacies of obesity, particularly how much a person's circumstances can play in their health. She claims that this contradicts the concept that reducing weight is simply a question of willpower.

“It takes a lot of effort and energy to eat healthily and then to lose weight,” Yeary said.

Beatima, who stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs around 170 pounds, said, "That really impacted me."

His efforts were aided by the epidemic, which made weight loss easier. He was no longer ordering takeout, going out with friends, or hosting his family's annual feasts.

He also found relief in dancing to YouTube videos, and he was motivated by the awareness that improving his health would lower his risk of developing severe COVID-19.

“I suppose if I got it when I was 300, it would be a lot more of a fight than if I got it today,” Beatima remarked.

Another reason obesity is so difficult to combat is that weight gain occurs gradually over time, making it easier to dismiss as a health problem. In the United States, one out of every four adults is fat, and one out of every three is overweight.

Despite the fact that the pandemic brought attention to the dangers of obesity, he claims that people are already accustomed to hearing about how hazardous it is to be overweight.

“It usually takes a much larger, life-changing event on a personal level,” he stated when asked what causes people to lose weight successfully.

Mickey Beatima, a 29-year-old Seattle man who began trying to reduce weight a few months before the pandemic when his diabetes caused eye difficulties, was one of those people.

People are generally motivated to reduce weight only after a severe health concern, such as a heart attack or a significant change in lifestyle, according to Eric Plaisance, an obesity researcher at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Christian Hainds, a 42-year-old Hammond, Indiana resident, shed around 50 pounds during the pandemic and is no longer considered obese at 180 pounds and 5 feet, 11 inches tall.

Over the years, his weight had crept up to roughly 230 pounds.

But it wasn't until he was diagnosed with diabetes around the time of the pandemic that he felt compelled to make adjustments, especially since the evidence was mounting that diabetes was one of the illnesses linked to severe coronavirus disease.

“All of the long-term terrible things that can happen as a result of obesity were no longer long-term concerns,” Hainds added.

For many others, the pandemic's focus on obesity dangers has waned as medicines and therapies have reduced the virus's threat, according to obesity researcher Yeary.

This could reduce the sense of urgency that was motivating certain people.

The pandemic's circumstances that made weight loss easier for some — more time for long walks, less dining out — are now dissipating.

For example, Beatima is spending more time with his family and has regained some weight.

He isn't concerned, though, that it would derail his overall fitness goals because,

According to him, the epidemic taught him how his weight was linked to what he valued, such as being able to spend time with his nieces and nephews for many years to come.

“That new ground is appreciating the worth of my physical, social, and mental wellbeing," he explained.

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