Doctor says quarantine weight gain could have lasting impacts

Quarantine snacking could have long lasting health effects

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As we head into another quarantine weekend, there’s yet another reason to watch what you eat.

A Baton Rouge researcher says even short-term weight gain could have lasting impacts on your health. She is conducting a study to learn more about those impacts.

There have been plenty of jokes made about the “Quarantine 15.” People are stuck at home, stressed out, maybe lonely. Research shows those conditions can actually trigger our brains to snack a little more than usual. It may seem harmless in this temporary situation but a scientist at Pennington Biomedical says it could have unintended consequences.

“The issue is during the weight gain phase, we really just don’t know what happens to different facets of your body and physiology during that time,” said Dr. Ursula White. “So, yes, you may lose the weight afterwards but you may have already done some type of harm."

White says the answers may lie in the fat itself. Fat tissue has many functions besides storing excess calories.

“We know that it’s important in insulin sensitivity but fat tissue also secretes many factors that can influence appetite, inflammation, your immune system, etc. The list goes on and on,” White added.

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Her federally funded study will track about 70 people. Participants will gain and lose small amounts of weight over several months - all under the watchful eye of researchers.

"It's just to better inform people about their health and what happens to their health when you have these weight fluctuations that are so common in the general population," White explained.

And with so many coronavirus deaths linked to underlying health conditions, Dr. White said it’s more important than ever to watch what you eat and keep moving.

“I think one of the take-home points, especially now, is having a healthy lifestyle and having your body be in its best shape possible is definitely a benefit,” White noted.

Pennington will begin recruiting for this study after the stay home order is lifted. Those who take part can earn up to $1,200.

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