Pandemic Silver Lining: Clients Focus on Health in 2021

The pandemic has caused many to gain weight and have poor health, but there is a silver lining.

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A survey commissioned by biotechnology company Gelesis found that 71 million Americans have gained weight during the pandemic. With 71% of Americans admitting that their weight impacts how they feel about their identity, particularly among women and parents, they are more determined than ever to lose weight and maintain healthy habits, according to the survey.

Survey Results

The survey revealed:

  • 63% of Americans surveyed agree that healthy lifestyle habits are harder to keep in the midst of COVID-19
  • 52% have been feeling down about the way they look during the pandemic, and nearly three in five are on a mission to lose weight
  • 58% said they need more support to lose weight
  • 42% don't feel their health care provider helps enough with their weight loss goals
  • 148 million Americans would be open to trying a naturally derived weight loss aid to support them in their journey
  • 116 million Americans agree the weight loss journey itself is miserable, noting cost of healthy foods, lack of time, eating in moderation and being deterred by slow results as barriers to their goals

Additionally, 60% of women vs. 44% of men reported feeling down about the way they look, and women were more likely than men to report their weight gain during the pandemic has affected their wellness by increasing their anxiety (39% vs. 26%). 

Related: Coping Strategies That Offset Pandemic Anxiety

In fact, mental stress and fatigue with weight gain are taking a toll across the board. Close to half (47%) of Americans who gained weight admit their self-esteem has decreased since March. Others find themselves feeling less motivated (50%), more stressed (41%), sad (36%) or anxious (33%) more often. More than two-fifths (41%) also report not being able to fit into their favorite clothes.

The pandemic has highlighted a profound shift in lifestyles and mental outlook:

  • 63% of people found it harder to maintain healthy lifestyle habits
  • 46% haven't been feeling like their normal selves
  • 41% felt unable to take charge of their lives

The impact that half of the people who have gained weight do not feel good about their health (50%) nor their appearance (53%), since the pandemic began.

A Silver Lining

There is good news, though. Americans were driven to make healthy lifestyle changes during the pandemic, even while many reported they were harder to keep (63%). More than three in five (61%) felt the need to get healthier and improve their lifestyle habits over the past six months. Nearly two-thirds have been more motivated to develop healthy eating habits (64%) and healthy lifestyle habits (63%) as well. 

Related: 3 Wellness Trends Caused by COVID

Many have already put these into practice, with 51% cooking at home more often and 50% drinking more water. And the focus on mealtime has had tangential benefits, with nearly a third of Americans having enjoyed more meals sitting down with family. 

In addition, wellness goals are top of mind for millions of Americans as they look ahead to the new year. Sixty percent of respondents want to feel healthier in general, and 51% hope to lose weight in 2021. 

"We have found that in 2021, the hopes of Americans outweigh their worries, and millions are ready to kick off the new year and make changes, including losing weight," says Elaine Chiquette, PharmD, Gelesis chief scientific officer.

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