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The New York Times reports that while from the beginning of the pandemic there were concerns among Americans about gaining the dreaded “quarantine 15,” a year later the reality may actually be worse.

According to the story, "a very small study using objective measures - weight measurements from Bluetooth-connected smart scales - suggests that adults under shelter-in-place orders gained more than half a pound every 10 days."  Which would translate to an almost 20-pound average weight gain since the pandemic began.

Of course, this always has been a persistent problem in the US, which the Times notes "already has among the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the world. Some 42 percent of American adults over age 20 have obesity, as defined by body mass index, while another 32 percent of Americans are simply overweight."

“We know that weight gain is a public health problem in the U.S. already, so anything making it worse is definitely concerning, and shelter-in-place orders are so ubiquitous that the sheer number of people affected by this makes it extremely relevant,” says Dr. Gregory M. Marcus, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

Marcus says that actual national numbers could be a lot worse, since people using Bluetooth-connected scales probably are more health-conscious than others … which would suggest that people not using such smart scales may have gained a lot more weight during the past year.

KC's View:

First of all, this story is all the reason I need never to get a Bluetooth-enabled scale.  I mean, jeez.

I do think that these numbers create an enormous opportunity for people in the food business to be newly relevant to their shoppers.  Whether through the promotion of healthier foods or the creation of programs that develop a sense of community among people trying to lose weight in the after-times, retailers ought to be jumping all over this opportunity.

To be perfectly honest, I count myself among the folks dealing with this issue.  About three years ago I lost 40 pounds, and found myself able to keep about 35 of them off through mildly careful eating and consistent exercise - not just jogging, but also all the day-to-day exercise I'd get walking.  I love to walk.  But over the past year, I've gained about half that weight back - it was the combination of not traveling (not being in Portland, where I tend to get a ton of exercise, last summer was a killer), lazier eating, and then an injury that kept me from jogging for about four months.  (Lousy winter weather didn't help, since the gym was closed.)

And so I'm trying to regain some discipline, especially because I've booked some live speeches for later this year;  my goal is to get down to fighting weight by the time I hit the road again.  People like me are the center of the target when it comes to marketing healthier eating habits.

But I'm still not investing in a Bluetooth-enabled scale.