Found your jeans are feeling more than a little too tight on the waistband after months in lockdown?
You’re not the only one.
Two in three adults struggled with weight gain in lockdown, says new research, with increased snacking, reduced exercise, and increased levels of stress and anxiety to blame.
An online survey of 800 adults in the UK in May, 637 from the general public and 222 members of Slimming World, found that the majority – 65% of the general public, 59% of Slimming World members said they had found managing their weight ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ difficult since lockdown came into place.
Reasons listed included difficulty getting to the shops and picking up usual healthy foods, increased snacking due to boredom and being at home, higher levels of stress and anxiety leading to comfort eating, and more sedentary time and less exercising.
Some did report benefits of time in lockdown, such as having more time to plan meals, being able to cook from scratch, and having a new routine to stick to.
But for many of us, time at home and increased stress levels associated with the coronavirus pandemic made us reach for unhealthy options.
Oh, and we were drinking more booze, too, which isn’t great for our overall health or our weight. 16% of the general population admitted they had been drinking more alcohol these last few months.
Dr Sarah-Elizabeth Bennett, Slimming World’s senior research associate, said: ‘Lockdown inevitably had an effect on our choices around food, drink and activity.
‘Given excess weight is associated with a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 and with lots of people coming out of lockdown feeling concerned about their weight and health, the findings of the study show behaviour change support is more important now than ever.’
This survey backs up recent research that found people have gained weight in lockdown.
A report from the Covid Symptom Study app found that almost a third (29%) of almost 450,000 people who contributed to the app said they had gained weight since March 2020.
The average increase in body weight was found to be 0.78kg (1.6lbs).
Of 1.6 million people who responded to a questionnaire about behavioural changes since the start of lockdown, 35% said they had increased snacking and 34% had decreased their levels of physical acrtivity.
Almost one in five (19%) were eating less healthily in lockdown and 27% admitted they were drinking more alcohol.
Sarah Berry, associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said: ‘Typically people snack 2-3 times a day and this accounts for 22% of total energy intake.
‘The increase in snacking during lockdown, especially with unhealthy, highly processed foods is likely to be a contributing factor in our observed weight gain of the UK population.
‘Replacing unhealthy snacks with healthy snacks, and limiting late-night snacking, is a simple dietary strategy to improve health.
‘But we shouldn’t use these findings to shame people about their weight, especially during these difficult times, instead we should focus our efforts to help everyone lead healthy lifestyles that are sustainable.’
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