April 2, 2023 -After gaining 30 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Murillo is finally getting back into fighting shape.
Early pandemic lockdowns, endless hours on his laptop and heightened stress led Murillo, 27, to reach for cookies and chips in the barracks at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Gyms were closed, organized exercise was out and Murillo’s motivation to work out on his own was low.
“I could notice it,” said Murillo, who is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed as much as 192 pounds. “The uniform was tighter.”
Murillo wasn’t the only service member dealing with extra weight. New research found that obesity in the U.S. military surged during the pandemic. In the Army alone, nearly 10,000 active duty soldiers developed obesity between February 2019 and June 2021, pushing the rate to nearly a quarter of the troops studied. Increases were seen in the U.S. Navy and the Marines, too.