Weight gain, weight management and medical care for individuals living with overweight and obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic (EPOCH Study)


DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.591

Stephen A. Glazer and Michael Vallis


Medical care and weight related experiences have been challenged by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for those living with obesity. The magnitude of this impact requires further attention in order to optimize patient care and outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on access to, and experience of, medical care, weight gain and management strategies, as well as predictors of weight gain.
METHODSAn online survey (June–October 2020) was conducted with two samples; one representative of Canadians living with overweight and obesity (n = 1089) and a second of individuals recruited through obesity clinical services or patient organizations (n = 980).

RESULTSLess than half of the total respondents thought that their providers were available for their medical care and most preferred in-person appointments over telemedicine. Only one quarter were satisfied with their obesity care. Sixty percent of the respondents reported weight gain (on average 5.65 kilograms [kg] gained), with 39.0% gaining more than 5% of their body weight (10.2% gained more than 10%). Over half of the respondents experienced decreased motivation for healthy eating or exercise. One third experienced more frequent and greater food consumption. Although worsening sleep occurred in approximately 20%, there was no significant increase in smoking, alcohol, or cannabis use. Predictors of weight gain were younger patients, higher weight categories, those who struggled with obtaining medical care during the pandemic, as well as those who struggled with eating.

CONCLUSIONThese results suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted patient care for those living with overweight and obesity and was associated with weight gain and interfered with weight management strategies. Greater attention to personalized weight management and interventions that focus on the predictors of weight gain should be undertaken.