If a new survey is any indication, this may be the year Americans get it together, health-wise. Working from home for most of 2020 meant easy access to the food pantry, and for 71 million Americans, unwanted weight gain. A new survey revealed that 60% of Americans want to feel healthier and 51% want to lose weight by exercising and changing their diets, including trying to eat more plant-based.

The survey, commissioned by biotechnology company Gelesis and released today, reveals among 1,012 adults polled, feeling healthier is the highest priority, followed closely by losing weight, and they are willing to try new diets and exercise routines to achieve their goals. Over one-third said they would even consider switching to a plant-based diet.

Respondents said they are open to trying new workout programs and adopting healthier diets: 74% are interested in trying a new exercise program to help them lose weight; 65% are open to making a change to their eating schedule. When it comes to diets, 55% would consider trying a diet such as keto or Paleo, while 38% would consider making the shift to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle to lose weight.

“Health has taken on even greater importance since the pandemic began," said Elaine Chiquette, PharmD, Gelesis' Chief Scientific Officer. "While the majority of Americans gained weight during this challenging time, 2020 has also made many of us re-examine our habits."

She added: “More than ever, we see people saying they need more support in their weight loss journey and focusing on how to live a healthier lifestyle. As we kick off 2021, we are all hopeful for a brighter, healthier future for America.”

Losing weight poses different challenges now than it did pre-pandemic.

For 3 in 5 Americans, the weight loss journey is almost as miserable as being overweight. Respondents believe before the pandemic started, willpower, lack of time, and social lives held them back from losing weight. Now, 60% of Americans agree that losing weight has become more difficult over the past six months, not only because they lack willpower but also a lack of money and a support system.

Even with the obstacles they face, respondents are hopeful that 2021 will be the year they adopt a healthier lifestyle. Of those surveyed, 25% would like this year to be the moment that they fit into skinny jeans; 22% would like to run a mile without stopping; 32% are motivated by the chance to feel good about their body in bathing suits, and 40% of Americans would just like to feel more confident in their own skin.

If the pandemic helps Americans decide to get healthier, change their diets to be more plant-based, and wake up to the importance of daily exercise, that would be a silver lining at last.

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