According to the American Psychology Association’s annual stress survey, 42% of the population gained an average of 29 pounds during the pandemic. While it took about a year to gain, for many people, it could take a lifetime to lose, if they lose it at all, says Hans J. Schmidt, M.D., Chief, Division of Bariatric Surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center. 

“Thirty-five hundred calories (3,500) equals one pound of fat. Every time you eat 3,500 more calories than your body needs to carry on its basic functions, those excess calories result in weight gain,” explains Dr. Schmidt. “The goal, of course, is to burn more calories than you consume, which during the quarantine was very difficult for people. Couple this inactivity with eating more due to isolation and anxiety, and the result is a new wave of health concerns.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, people who gain more than 11 pounds are at higher risk of developing Type II diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease, and people who gain more than 24 pounds are at higher risk of developing ischemic stroke. Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are overweight are more likely to develop serious illness from the coronavirus.  

So is weight loss surgery the solution? “It’s the best decision I have ever made,” says  37 year old Palisades Park, NJ Police Detective Alex Monteleone, who went from 360 pounds to 230 pounds. 

“At only 37 years old, I was taking medication for high blood pressure. Now, my blood pressure is normal and I’m running marathons,” says Andrew Truong, another patient who opted for bariatric surgery.

Beyond weight loss, new studies show bariatric surgery boosts life expectancy, reduces pressure inside the skull and is also effective at improving vascular outcomes.