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How Dieters Are Responding To The Pandemic

Jan. 25, 2021

Robard just recently did a webinar featuring Patrick O’Neil at the Medical University of South Carolina. In that webinar, he discussed working with obese patients, and what their program has been seeing, and how they’ve changed their services to adapt to the limitations of the pandemic. This is a multidisciplinary medical weight loss program, but we think that their findings would apply to commercial programs as well.

How have dieters dealt with pandemic weight gain in 2020? A few findings:

  • Overweight patients experienced increased levels of anxiety and depression.
  • 48% performed less exercise.
  • 12% skipped meals.
  • 61% had more stress-related eating.
  • 60% had increased stockpiling of food.

Robard also reported that there was a shift in priorities, with health and fitness being more important that weight control. There was more snacking. It was more difficult to get the right foods for weight loss plans. Exercise facilities were closed. There was more of a need to care for young children at home.

There were some positives… There was no/little eating out at restaurants (i.e. less food temptation situations). There was more cooking at home. There was more time for meal preparation and tracking, and more time to begin a weight loss program.

Weight management goes remote… However, not all the counseling was done via Zoom meetings. Email and phone calls were important methods of participation for many dieters. For many, simpler was better–counseling by phone rather than online video.

Some advantages of remote delivery for weight loss providers:

  • They can continue to offer their services.
  • Convenience and flexibility for the patient.
  • Low no–show rates.
  • Reduction in patient time requirements.

Some disadvantages:

  • Reliance on self-reported weights
  • Reduced patient focus
  • Loss of some in-person data (body composition).

In conclusion then, it appears that dieters can still participate in weight loss programs even during a pandemic while stuck at home. Technology and adaptation by weight loss providers has made it possible.

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