According to a study performed on 100 household members between the 42nd and 47th week of the lockdown, it was found that 40% of the participants gained up to 5 kg and 16% added 2.1 to 5 kg due to the lifestyle changes brought about by the lockdowns. As a team specializing in surgical and non-surgical weight loss, we are also witnessing an increasing trend of weight gain amongst our patients nowadays. With the number of Covid 19 cases going down, we are being approached by more and more patients who are worried about weight gain during the last 6 to 7 months. These patients are from across all age-groups.
The causes for weight gain during this period are many. Sudden lockdowns changed our world overnight and forced everyone to stay indoors indefinitely. All the avenues for physical activity like gyms, parks, yoga centres and all other outdoor pursuits were stopped abruptly. Lockdowns also brought immense stress and uncertainty in our lives. Interpersonal issues, job related problems and financial difficulties added to the strain and anxiety during this period leading to altered sleep cycles. Staying at home with no other way left to entertain themselves, a lot of people revelled in cooking and eventually eating all the delicacies prepared by them.
When it comes to weight gain, there are two groups of people- those who were normal weight and those who were already suffering from obesity or being overweight. During lockdown, people in both groups gained weight. Our patients who had consulted for bariatric surgery in February and March 2020, had to wait as elective surgeries were put on hold. Many of these are coming back to us now with significant weight gain. Just yesterday I saw a 42 years old lady in my clinic. Before the lockdown her weight was 118 kg. She gained 12 kgs during the lockdown and her family members noticed subtle changes like increased breathlessness on walking short distances, not being able to get up easily from the floor and increased lethargy. At 118 kg, gaining another 12 kg can be very significant and can tip the balance from being fit to becoming sick.
Many normal weight people also gained between 2 to 5 kgs during the lockdown. Those who suffered from type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure experienced increase in blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels along with weight gain. Regular exercise is an integral part of the management of most non-communicable diseases. Unfortunately, for the last 7 months this took a complete backseat and doctors all over the world are concerned that we may see a rise in the levels of these ailments.
As the Covid 19 cases show a downward trend and gradually the un-lockdowns happen in phases, we need to start refocusing on our health. As a first step, it is important to check your weight and calculate your body mass index (BMI=weight in kg/height in m2). BMI between 18.5 to 23.5 kg/ m2 is considered in the normal weight category. BMI between 23.5 to 27.5 kg/ m2 is considered overweight, between 27.5 to 32.5 kg/ m2 falls under grade 1 obesity, 32.5 to 37.5 kg/ m2 under grade 2 obesity and above 37.5 kg/ m2 is considered as grade 3 obesity.
Prevention is always better than cure. Hence, it is important for everyone of us to eat healthy and exercise regularly. We all need to try our hand at the healthy version of the recipes that we have been relishing. Portion control is important too. Everyone must aim for 30 to 45 minutes of moderate exercise for at least 5 days a week. Additionally, it is also important to pay attention to reducing stress and having a good 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day. For those who fall into the overweight or obese category, it is important to see a qualified weight loss specialist in the form of a dietician or a bariatric surgery team. People in the overweight category and those who suffer from Grade 1 obesity can benefit from specialist advice in the form of sustainable and medically supervised weight loss diets along with lifestyle modification. For those who have tried dieting multiple times and not been able to keep the weight off, an endoscopic intra-gastric balloon may be a good option for weight loss.
People who suffer from grade 3 obesity must take their health very seriously and must consult bariatric surgery teams. Obesity is the root cause of many associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, joint related issues, PCOS, lung and liver diseases and certain cancers as well. Obesity has also been implicated as a poor prognostic factor for Covid 19 infection. Patients who suffer from obesity have been seen to need to more frequent hospital admissions and have a higher tendency to get transferred to intensive care units. Hence, it is very important to recognize obesity and seek proper treatment advice for it.
The lockdowns will soon end and the world will hopefully be back to normal. Do pay attention to your weight. Till the scales of weight remain down, scales of health will keep looking upwards! Cheers!
About Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker is an accomplished and renowned Bariatric Surgeon and Laparoscopic Surgeon.
Read more about Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker- https://www.bestbariatricsurgeon.org/dr-aparna-govil-bhasker/
Dr. Aparna’s website is- https://www.bestbariatricsurgeon.org
You can read her lovely blogs on- http://www.aparnagovilbhasker.com
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker is a visiting bariatric surgery or weight loss consultant at the following hospitals: