MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, more than half of U.S. adults report an undesired weight change.

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports 61% of adults have experienced unintentional weight loss or weight gain over the last year.

When you add staying home plus mental disturbance, the outcome is obesity, said Dr. Zaher Nuwayhid, Conway Medical Center’s bariatric specialist.

“Most of my patients have either been not losing weight or have been gaining weight. And every time I speak with them, they say, ‘Doctor listen, I’ve been home, and all I do is eat,’” Nuwayhid said.

(American Psychological Association)

According to the APA, 42% report gaining more weight than intended, while 18% said they lost more weight than they wanted.

The average amount of weight gained was 29 pounds, while the average amount lost was 26 pounds.

Besides eating more, medical experts say weight can be affected by a change in sleep and increased alcohol consumption.

“I always tell my patients you can turn the point around. I know you had a bad month, you stayed home, you quarantined, you gained some weight, but that’s fine, it’s not the end of the world. You can always lose it,” Nuwayhid said.

Doctors say the pandemic has also taken a toll on mental health. Stress can have a direct impact on undesired weight loss. Additionally, there is also a financial aspect.

“With the pandemic, you lose your job, so your income also becomes on the low side. So you tend to buy cheap stuff like high-calorie goods, snacks, chips, and this is also bad,” Nuwayhid said.

Medical experts report obesity as a risk factor for COVID-19, but acknowledge staying home is increasing the obesity population.

A recent report released by The World Obesity Federation links obesity with a series of health complications related to COVID-19. It found that increased bodyweight “is the second greatest predictor of hospitalization and a high risk of death for people suffering from COVID-19.”

Only age ranks as a higher risk factor.