The coronavirus has shaken the world like nothing else. But beyond the terrible toll of death, economic devastation and fear, the virus is likely to leave another lasting mark.
It is going to make us all fatter.
“I don’t know if we are going to come out of this experience stronger, but we will have gotten fatter,” warned nutritionist Beatrice de Reynal, who said that was only one thing to do – eat less.
“It is going to happen to us all, even if we try to exercise,” said the similarly fatalistic Julian Mercier, a French sports, health and cooking coach.
With more than a quarter of humanity shut up at home or under lockdown, and with many worried they will get the virus next, the temptation to comfort eat was hard to resist.
“I am the first to turn to chocolate rather than to an apple,” Mercier admitted. “And that is what risks being our undoing.”
The arithmetic of the situation is hard to argue with.
By doing little or none of the physical activity we normally do, an adult is likely to burn off up to 400 fewer calories a day, said dietician Jennifer Aubert.
Which is why we have to reduce our portions and move as much as we can – as long as it is not to the fridge and back.
Other experts point to people who have panic-bought a cupboard full of fresh food, finding themselves duty-bound to eat their way through it.
Being alone and coping with the stress of the situation, as well as worries about whether they will have a job to go back to, can tip people into over-eating, the British Nutrition Foundation warned.
“With concerns about the availability of food, eating well and staying healthy alongside all the other stresses of the coronavirus outbreak is a challenge,” it admitted.
“Food can be a comfort and it’s easy to overeat when spending so much time at home, especially if you like to cook in order to pass the time.”