Tired, Anxious, Overweight: How Lockdowns May Have Harmed Your Health – Consumer Health NewsOctober 29, 2020
THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — You might be onto something if you suspect your mental and physical health declined during the COVID-19 lockdown earlier this year.
Stay-at-home orders appear to have had an overall bad effect on people’s health around the world, a global survey shows.
People reported that they gained weight during the lockdown, were less active, suffered from poor sleep, and experienced increased stress and anxiety, said lead author Emily Flanagan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.
Flanagan worries that these health changes will affect people’s lives long after COVID-19 has been brought to heel as an infectious disease threat.
“There’s research to show that even short-term changes in health — short-term weight gain or short-term physical inactivity — have long-lasting repercussions, more so than when you lose weight or start exercising again or start eating better,” she said. “These, unfortunately, will have long-lasting impacts beyond the stay-at-home orders and beyond the COVID pandemic.”
France and Germany both locked down this week in the face of a second wave of COVID-19 infections spreading across Europe, raising expectations that parts or all of the United States will have to follow suit this winter.
Dr. Reshmi Srinath, director of the Mount Sinai Weight and Metabolism Management Program in New York City, said this is a “powerful study” that confirms what clinicians have seen in patients who are being followed for diabetes and weight gain.
“Stress, anxiety, excess snacking and less activity all are contributing to weight gain and uncontrolled glucose [blood sugar] levels in patients with diabetes,” said Srinath, who was not involved with the new research.
For this study, Flanagan’s team surveyed more than 7,700 people through an advertising link on Facebook. Most respondents were in the United States, with half from Louisiana, but people from more than 50 other countries also filled out the detailed online questionnaire.
Interestingly, one solid piece of good news did emerge from the lockdown. While people were stuck at home, they tended to eat more healthy foods than usual, Flanagan said.
“The main driver of that healthy eating score was actually people not eating out as much,” she said. “Because of that, we saw less fried food consumption, less takeout, less fast-food — so overall, healthy eating scores increased.”
Regardless of healthier eating, more than one-quarter of respondents (27%) said they still gained weight. People who were already obese reported weight gain more often than people who were overweight or at normal weight, the results showed. By contrast, about 17% of respondents said they’d lost weight.
Although diets improved overall, people still reported eating more snacks, desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages. For example, about 26% reported an increase in healthy snacking, but 44% reported an increase in unhealthy snacking.
A decline in…