Photo credit: Pennington Biomedical Research Center

A globally unique survey shows that the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdown has dramatically changed our personal habits, mainly for the worse.

“The home-stay orders resulted in a great positive state of health. Overall, the healthy diet increased because we ate less often. However, we ate more. We got less exercise. We went to bed later and slept worse. The anxiety level has doubled, “said Leanne Redman, Ph.D., assistant executive director of science education at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

The global survey assessed the unintended changes in health behavior that occurred under the widespread restrictions of the pandemic. The researchers found that the effects of blocking were heightened in people with obesity.

“Overall, obese people have improved their diets the most. But they have also experienced the greatest declines in mental health and the highest incidence of weight gain,” said Dr. Redman. “A third of people with obesity gained weight during lockdown, compared with 20.5 percent of people of normal weight or overweight.”

The online survey study ran in April. More than 12,000 people worldwide took part in the survey and 7,754 filled out the detailed online questionnaire. The majority of respondents were in the United States, half from Louisiana. Residents of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and more than 50 other countries also responded.

Those who took the survey responded largely the same way to the pandemic, whether they live in Louisiana, elsewhere in the US, or overseas.

“This study is the first to ask thousands of people around the world about lifestyle changes in response to home orders. Breakthrough research like this is part of Pennington Biomedical’s mission. The study shows that chronic diseases such as obesity have an impact.” Our health goes beyond the physical, “said Dr. John Kirwan, Executive Director, “Dr. Redman’s study is just one of many initiatives the center has launched to understand the effects of COVID-19 and to slow its spread.”

The research team wants doctors and scientists to change the way they deal with obesity in two ways, said Emily Flanagan, Ph.D., lead author of the study and postdoctoral fellow in the reproductive endocrinology and women’s health laboratory of Dr. Redman.

  • By increasing the number of mental health screenings during and after the pandemic.
  • By keeping in touch with patients / study participants through remote visits and telemedicine to prevent irreversible health effects from the pandemic. So-called virtual visits can allay patients’ concerns about the safety of personal visits.

Almost 20 percent of Americans don’t have enough to eat

More information:
Emily W. Flanagan et al., The Influence of COVID-19 Home Orders on Adult Health Behaviors, Obesity (2020). DOI: 10.1002 / oby.23066

Provided by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

Quote: COVID-19 Lockdown Reduces Mental Health, Sleep, Exercise (2020, October 23), accessed October 23, 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-covid-lockdown-mental-health. html

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