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Increased speculation of widespread weight gain and overall adoption of bad habits are spreading across the public consciousness as memes of tightening sweatpants, banana bread-baking and copious alcohol consumption saturate our social media feeds amid the coronavirus crisis.
A new study by Withings, a company that makes Internet-connected health devices like watches and scales, revealed that general well-being is actually holding up during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company studied what happened to the weight of some 450,000 of its American users between March 22 — when New York ordered people to stay home — and April 18, 2020. The study found that people are apparently not gaining weight like the memes are suggesting, and stated that, “in the U.S., only 37 percent have gained more than a pound, with the average gain standing at .21 pounds.”
Fox News contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier noted that while the data brought up good discussion points, people should keep in mind that the study “is getting most of its data from these fitness trackers or from people who are actually wearing fitness trackers, and the majority of the people who typically wear these types of items are in-tune with their bodies and their health and wellness.”
However, Saphier said it’s still a positive sign to physically see people moving around more.
“It's great in the sense that I look outside my front door and, all of a sudden, I'm seeing my entire neighborhood walking because people need to get out of the house,” Dr. Saphier told Fox News. “So I am pleasantly surprised, and this small study actually acknowledges that people are moving around a lot more.”
The study’s findings also revealed that some states are averaging higher daily step counts, including Indiana (increased 16 percent), Connecticut (increased 11 percent), West Virginia (increased 9 percent), Ohio and Michigan (both states increased 6 percent), and Louisiana (increased 4 percent).
Dr. Saphier pointed to Americans’ work habits before stay-at-home orders went into effect.
“The majority of people were actually at their place of business, at work, and we all know that the far majority of workplaces promote sedentary lifestyles, meaning you're sitting behind a desk all day,” said Dr. Saphier. “Now, all of a sudden, if you're working from home, there's probably a lot more distractions in your house. Maybe you have kids who are doing distance learning like I do. I have three of them, so I'm getting up, running around in between everything I'm doing for work at home.”
The loss of weekends has also had an impact on Americans’ overall sleep habits. The study revealed that people’s sleep patterns were not as drastically varied because weekends and weekdays are blending together.
Dr. Saphier noted that, while she is pleased to see more positive sleep patterns, she does not believe the changes will be long-lasting.
“It is great to see that we are having more regular sleep patterns in this time of strife, but that being said, people are not going out to bars, or going out for late-night entertainment, so, it makes sense that Monday through Friday kind of mirrors Saturday and Sunday right now,” explained Dr. Saphier.
“I anticipate that's probably going to change again once things start opening up and people are able to stay out later again. Especially right now when people are feeling a little bit more stressed, a little more anxious, I think these improved sleep patterns are crucial to making sure people are staying mentally and physically well.”
To hear more from Dr. Saphier and her advice on how to maintain your mental health during COVID-19 isolation, watch the full interview above.
Emily DeCiccio is a reporter and video producer for Fox News Digital Originals. Tweet her @EmilyDeCiccio.