Study finds Americans gained average of 1.5 pounds a month during pandemic

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Lutheran Health physician encourages a healthy loss of 'Quarantine 15'

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – As the days get longer and more of the community is opening up, an Lutheran Health physician is encouraging patients to reverse the extra pounds they may have added over the past year of the pandemic.

David Mohan, MD, Family Medicine, with Lutheran Health Physicians, says it’s a great time to get back on track with healthy habits and shed that extra weight.

“Pandemic pounds are going to be the same as loss of pounds at any other time,” Mohan said. “Consistent adherence to a low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diet on a daily basis is needed. Learning how to count carbs and count calories is really essential.”

A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco, confirmed what many of our scales and wardrobes have already shown us – lower activity levels and increased snacking and overeating have added up. The study found significant increases in weight of roughly a pound and a half gained per month following the shelter-in-place orders of last spring.

Even before the pandemic, CDC data from 2017-2018 showed that 35% or more of the adults in Indiana struggled with obesity. “Overweight” is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher while “obese” is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Extra pounds can increase the risk for many serious diseases and health conditions that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death, Mohan said. Being overweight can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, many types of cancer and other concerns.

“If you have gained the ‘Quarantine 15,’ a gentle caloric restriction of around 1,800 calories a day coupled with 20 to 30 minutes of cardio exercise at least 5 days per week is essential, if approved by your physician,” Mohan said. “Regular cardio exercise traditionally increases the heart rate to a targeted 65% of the maximum heart rate, helping burn calories and improving cardiovascular fitness. Always check with your physician to determine if caloric restriction and/or cardio exercise is right for you.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance include dietary changes, physical activity, behavior therapy, pharmacotherapy and surgery. Your primary care physician can help you determine what course of action can support your health objectives.

Anyone looking to find a Lutheran Health Physicians primary care provider or schedule a telehealth visit is asked to call 833-546-4968. Find available primary care provider appointments on Lutheran Health’s website.

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