Healthy Loss of Pandemic Pounds

As the days get longer and more of our community is opening up, a local physician is encouraging her patients to reverse the extra pounds they may have added over the past year of the pandemic. Preeti Lekhra, M.D. a Primary Care physician with Bayfront Health Medical Group, says it’s a great time to get back on track with healthy habits and shed that extra weight.

“In a year we have already given up so much, let’s now try to give up those quarantine pounds- healthy food and increased exercise is the key to health,” said Dr. Lekhra.

A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco confirmed what many of our scales and wardrobes have already shown us – lower activity levels and increased snacking and overeating have added up, and not for the better. The study found significant increases in weight of roughly a pound and a half gained per month following the shelter in place orders of last spring.

Even before the pandemic, CDC data from 2017-2018 showed that 25-30% or more of the adults in Florida had obesity. Overweight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher; obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Extra pounds can increase your risk for many serious diseases and health conditions that are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. Overweight can lead to high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, many types of cancer and other concerns.

 “The pounds accumulated during homestay are temporary and need to be shown exit through mindful eating habits and regular exercises.  I encourage patients to speak with their physician about establishing a healthy plan to lose weight,” added Dr. Lekhra.

According to the National Institutes of Health, strategies for weight loss and weight maintenance include dietary changes, physical activity, behavior therapy, pharmacotherapy and surgery. Your primary care physician can help you determine what course of action can support your health objectives.

Dr. Lekhra’s practice has put a number of precautions in place to ensure a safe environment for your appointment. These include masking of all patients and providers, checking the temperature of all clinic visitors, asking that only the patient comes in, and enhanced cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

If you need help finding a primary care physician, call 352-513-4276 or visit to be connected with one of Bayfront Health Medical Group’s qualified family medicine, internal medicine or gynecologic physicians.

About Bayfront Health Seven Rivers

Bayfront Health Seven Rivers, a 128-bed full-service, acute care hospital serving Citrus, Levy and south Marion counties, opened its doors in 1978. Bayfront Health Seven Rivers is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and has earned the Gold Seal of Approval® and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. As part of the Bayfront Health regional network of seven hospitals stretching 180 miles along the I-75 corridor, we are integrated to give our patients access to quality clinical knowledge, dedicated to providing advanced treatments and technology, and routinely recognized nationally for our quality of care. Learn more at


·         Body Weight Changes During Pandemic-Related Shelter-in-Place in a Longitudinal Cohort Study, by Anthony l. Lin, MD; Eric Vittinghoff, PhD; Jeffrey E. Olgin, MD; et al; March 22, 2021, JAMA Network Open,

·         CDC

·         Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults: The Evidence Report; National Institutes of Health, 1998.