by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [T]wo aspects of the coronavirus era have become clearer. Both of them concern weight, and both suggest that one of the key ways our society reacted was an obvious mistake — and one that should be corrected.
The first should come as no surprise: During the past year or so, many people have gained more weight than they would like. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 61 percent of U.S. adults reported unwanted weight change since the beginning of the pandemic. To be clear, some of this was undesired weight loss. But 42 percent of survey respondents indicated undesired weight gain. Ominously, the number was even higher for younger generations: nearly half of Millennials, and slightly over half of Generation Z. The survey reports some eye-popping numbers, not just in overall percentages but also in average weight gain for those who reported having gained it (29 pounds overall, 28 pounds for Gen Z, and a whopping 41 pounds for Millennials). It’s worth taking these results with a grain of salt (better here than on your next meal). But they still almost certainly capture a real trend. And it’s no mystery why this might have happened. Since last March, people have been encouraged to remain in their homes, and opportunities for fitness and recreation have diminished, all while external stress has increased. These factors have had real implications for the physical health of many. …
… The report adds that “of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported by the end of February 2021, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.” There may be other factors at play; air-conditioning, climate, time spent indoors, etc. But in a survey of its own, also in March, our own CDC found that, in the United States, more than half of coronavirus patients in hospitals were medically obese, and an additional 28 percent were overweight.