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Putting on the quarantine kilos? It's a weighty matter

Weight gain amid the pandemic could point to stresses faced during this period. If you’re getting heavier, you’re not alone – many are sharing stories online and offering advice.

Netizens have taken to using the hashtag #quarantine15 to share stories about weight gain during the pandemic, with some citing stress eating, lack of exercise and loneliness as reasons. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Little by little, gram by gram, one chocolate cube by chocolate cube, I have added inches to my tummy.

All the chocolate bars and boxes I brought back from my Europe holiday for office colleagues in the hope that Dorscon orange would be lifted soon and we would be back at work, in the true sense of the noun, are gone.

They were finished by me during the circuit breaker.

There was not much to stop me you see. Being at home, the refrigerator was more accessible than the swimming pool or my friends. And, I found myself opening it several times a day for a chocolate square or four.

The weighing scale was just a couple of feet away but the battery was dead, (still is), and its accusing vibes didn't reach me. As a result, I don't know how much weight I have gained.

But when even the lounge wear begins to feel a bit tight and uncomfortable, the tyres can no longer be ignored and the rounder face staring back at me on video calls can no longer be blamed on unflattering camera angles.

I'm not alone. Pandemic weight gain or quarantine weight is a thing.

On the Internet, there is a hashtag for it: #quarantine15. According to Psychology Today, it refers to a 15-pound (6.8kg) weight gain during self-isolation. Some also say they have gained the Covid-19 to refer to the kilos they may have put on.

Stress eating, lack of exercise and loneliness are some of the reasons given by netizens who have put on the pounds during the pandemic. Depression, anxiety and disruptions to daily routine are also factors that could cause quarantine weight gain, says a medically reviewed article in American website Healthline.com.

Twitter user AK realised why she was putting on weight. "Was feeling sad, then I remembered I have ice cream in the freezer. My quarantine weight gain is starting to make more sense," she wrote in a self-realisation tweet.

In a song titled, At The Fridge Again!, gospel singer KD French sings both lead and background vocals to admonish herself for wanting to snack even though she visited the fridge just minutes ago. "Somebody stop me…," she starts.

The gospel singer from Atlanta, Georgia, has garnered nearly 600,000 views for the two-minute video since it was uploaded on YouTube on Aug 12. "At least making this song kept me from the fridge for about an hour!!" she wrote in the caption. YouTube user Chickadee_3155 has called it the official Covid-19 lockdown weight gain anthem.

But as Twitter user jordan said, "ok this extra quarantine weight isn't funny any more".

Humour aside, while weight gain and loss are a normal part of life, during the pandemic, it could point to the stresses associated with this period. Anxiety about jobs and financial security, and additional responsibilities at home - including having to take care of younger and older family members - all add up.

Comfort and emotional eating is a way some people deal with these anxieties, and it is okay not to feel guilty while reaching out for that deep-fried chip because your body is craving it due to the worries on your mind.

But at the same time, some say the additional weight and intake of less nutritious food can also lead to a weaker immune system.

"I try to help my patients understand that it's not just about the weight," Dr Mark Hyman, head of strategy and innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Centre for Functional Medicine, told ABC News. Through poor nutrition, "they're increasing their risk of complications and severe infection from Covid-19".

Just as the Internet has netizens sharing how they "have gained the Covid-19", there are some who are also motivating others to keep fit.


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Twitter user Carlos Correa lost some of the weight he put on by making some simple switches.

"Such a relief. I lost 6 of my #quarantine15. All I did was eliminate the sweets (cookies and soda mostly) and started drinking LOTS more water, again," he said.

Everyone needs space, and I don't mean the physical kind. If you have made the refrigerator or pantry your new best friend, it may be time to gently put some space between the two of you and practise some distancing. It will be difficult, I know, to avoid the chocolate aisle on my next trip to the supermarket, but I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone.


Tractor tracks, sprawling green fields, waddling ducks and frisky calves are what life on a farm is all about. And they are all playing on a YouTube channel on your device.

Farmers from across the world are uploading videos about their farms, the food they grow, the animals they rear and the technology they use on YouTube, giving rise to a new community of influencers called the farm-influencer.

They include the farmer whose family has been in the industry for generations, as well as the first-timer who is learning the tricks of the trade from scratch and also teaching followers along the way.

"By using their channels to share their knowledge and shed light on everything from the financial aspects of running a farm to the day-to-day challenges of harvest season, farming creators are confronting stereotypes about their industry head-on," says YouTube's culture and trends team in a blog post earlier this month. The team has noticed the growing popularity of the community since last year.

One of these influencers is Meredith Bernard, whose YouTube channel - This Farm Wife - has 67,600 subscribers. It was launched in 2018. "My husband, two children and I work and live on a beef cattle operation in Milton, North Carolina, on the Central North Carolina/Virginia line. No two days are the same around here and I use this vlog to show the good, the bad, the hard and the rewarding we find in this life," she writes in the caption of her introductory video.

Remote video URL

Besides followers, the "FarmTubers" also gain monetarily, with some earning advertising revenues from product endorsements. Some, like North Carolina farmer Justin Rhodes, who was featured in a New York Times article on farming creators, get a tidy sum in annual fees from their followers who pay for private instruction and information.

Perhaps it is a good idea to start talking about the work you do. It may make you the next YouTube star.

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