Social isolation, boredom and anxiety have been our companions throughout much of 2020. They are likely to be with us in 2021. We all have our ways of relieving the stress associated with the complexities of this pandemic, and many people turn to food for comfort.
Young adults aren’t exempt from the perils of pandemic eating, an ongoing study that began in 2013 and has followed nearly 2,000 young people since they were in the ninth grade found recently. University of Southern California researchers asked participants in the Happiness and Health study to complete a module entitled, “Behavioral actions specific to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The participants, now young adults, were given a list of coping mechanism behaviors during the pandemic and asked to check all that applied to them. There were two food-related behaviors on the checklist — “eating high fat or sugary foods” and “eating more food than usual.”
One way to cut down on lockdown-driven overeating may be to post mass messages on social media to make people more aware of the problem.
Overeating and selecting unhealthy foods was associated with weight gain, especially among young people who were overweight prior to the pandemic. Average weight gain was about 5½ pounds.
As the pandemic continues, the impact of using food to cope and the resulting weight gain may not be reversible for some people, and this could have a significant impact on public health.
The researchers suggest mass media messaging to make people aware of unhealthy eating behaviors in an effort to put the brakes on the potential adverse effects of the pandemic on the fight against obesity.
Average weight gain was about 5½ pounds.
Exercise. Though the gym may be closed, you can still walk outdoors while maintaining an appropriate distance from others. You can also find many online exercise videos and classes.
The study is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.