Health Advice



COVID-19 Pounds

Charlyn Fargo on

The news is in. We managed to gain 2 pounds a month during our shelter-in-place quarantine. That's according to a new study published in JAMA. Overall, that's where the extra 20 pounds registering on our scale comes from. Just blame COVID-19.


So, we're already getting older and exercising less, and now we need to buy a new size of pants.

Study author Dr. Gregory Marcus, a cardiologist at the University of California, and colleagues analyzed 7,444 weight measurements from 269 people in 37 states who voluntarily used Bluetooth-connected scales (Fitbit or iHealth) from Feb. 1 to June 1 of 2020. They found participants (enrolled in the Health eHeart Study) had a steady weight gain of more than half a pound every 10 days, or about 1.5 to 2 pounds a month.

They also found that many of the participants were losing weight before COVID-19 hit.

Here's the good news: You're never too old to lose weight. In a study published recently in Clinical Endocrinology, a group of randomly selected individuals with obesity attending a hospital-based weight loss program lost weight whether they were 60 and over or younger than 60. Both groups were given dietary and psychological support to make lifestyle changes. And both age groups lost around 7% of their body weight.


My best tips for losing those COVID-19 pounds? Start tracking your calories. Write it down, or use an app on your phone. There are lots of good ones, such as MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and Fitbit. Choose one you like, and use it every day. Tracking calories is like keeping track of your bank account. You don't know what you have to spend -- whether it's calories or money -- unless you keep track.

And second, exercise daily. It takes a lot of exercise to lose a pound, but the value is in the mental state it puts you in. You think twice about that bowl of ice cream at night if you know it will make your workout harder in the morning. More important, exercise makes you feel good, from the endorphins you get to your joints and that general feeling of wellness.

Q and A

Q: Can you eat less red meat and still make a difference in your heart disease risk?


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