Pandemic weight gain: The average American has added how much?

Most of us have heard of the expression Freshman 15, an arbitrary estimate of weight gained by first year college students who, while on campus, are believed to increase their alcohol intake and indulge in fat and carbohydrate-rich food from university cafeterias and nearby restaurants. (In truth, although some college students gain 15 pounds or more during their first year, the average freshman gains closer to 2 pounds)


Perhaps a new term will be added to the weight gain lexicon…. The COVID 30.

How real is the pandemic weight gain phenomenon?

The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America pandemic survey polled 3,013 adults in the U.S. and found 42% reporting they gained more weight than they intended. Of those, the average weight gain is 29 pounds since March 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic became a major health crisis.

In sum, the study found that 61% said they experienced undesired weight changes and ten percent said they gained more than 50 pounds.

And more women (45%) reported packing on pounds than men (39%), but males reported an average weight gain of 37 pounds while females averaged 22 pounds.

The study also found that an unlikely age group is being impacted most. A whopping 48% of millennials reported weight gain, the highest rate for all adult age demographics. And the average number of pounds a millennial weight gainer added, 41, is also the highest among adult age groups. (Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1994/6 and are currently between 25-40 years old.)

The average millennial who gained unwanted weight packed on 41 pounds? That result is quite disturbing given the majority of millennials, at least the ones between 25 and 35, have the benefit of young, revved up metabolisms.

Many have been gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has a lot of people looking for new clothes. CBS News’ Naomi Ruchim reports.


Dr. Angela Fitch, vice president of the Obesity Medicine Association, told CBS News she finds the numbers reported by millennials “striking.”

“As an obesity medicine specialist… I find it to be alarming, for sure,” Fitch said. “But you can see where it could be the case. I mean, it’s been a very challenging year, on multiple levels.”

“I’ve had a lot of patients back that say they gained weight, that I used to see before the pandemic and were doing quite well with weight loss.

While it’s easy to believe 6 in 10 American adults have gained unwanted weight during the pandemic, the average pounds reported might seem high. However, given some psychiatrists insist their businesses have skyrocketed due to the stress surrounding the COVID-19 and the concurring political and social turmoil, it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if those numbers are accurate.

And let’s not forget, the surge in Americans working from home has undoubtedly contributed to weight gain. We’re always near a kitchen full of our food and don’t have to deal with the day-to-day goings-on in an office setting that often take our minds off of hunger and cravings for a few hours.

Health experts say those added pounds, in some cases 10 or more, could have long-term consequences if you don’t address them.

Moreover, we aren’t walking to and from our parking spot everyday or trudging with colleagues to the nearby restaurant or coffee shop during breaks or lunch time.

Many of us aren’t getting the exercise that comes with simply going to the office 5 days per week.

Pandemic weight gain is for real.

Have you gained weight during the pandemic?

Do you know anyone, such as a friend or colleague, who appears to have packed on weight in the last year?

Tags: Covid-19, weight gain, weight loss