Eating more, exercising less: lockdown takes its toll
Eating more, exercising less: some are emerging from lockdown in poor shape.
These are the early indications from a number of studies about changes in health behaviours during COVID-19.
A new study by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, has found that weight and emotional wellbeing has suffered throughout the lockdown.
Of the respondents who have gained weight during the pandemic, 61 per cent reported an increase in junk food consumption and 63 per cent reported an increase in snacking.
The survey of nearly 4000 CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet online community members found that respondents are emerging from lockdown feeling their exercise (66 per cent), emotional wellbeing (41 per cent) and diet (36 per cent) had worsened to some degree, with two in five indicating they have gained weight during the outbreak.
Did you exercise more or less in lockdown
This poll ended on 18 June 2020.
I did more exercise
I did less exercise
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
CSIRO Behavioural Scientist and report author Dr Emily Brindal described the findings as reflective of the challenges that millions of Australians are facing as they struggle to maintain wellbeing amid a significant lifestyle shift.
"Our analysis found that the COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted respondents' health and wellbeing," Dr Brindal said.
Another national study, conducted by CQUniversity, has revealed similar results.
It found that Australians have not been sleeping as well, exercising less and drinking and smoking more during the pandemic.
Lead researcher, Dr Robert Stanton said the team of CQUniversity researchers examined the associations between psychological distress and changes in selected health behaviours since the onset of COVID-19 in Australia.
"The biggest message from this study is that the reported negative changes in health behaviour, such as reduced physical activity, poorer sleep quality, and increased smoking and alcohol intake, are all associated with increased depression, anxiety and distress," Dr Stanton explained.
The national online survey of almost 1500 participants found that 48.9 per cent of those surveyed had been less active than before the pandemic, while 40.7 per cent also reported poorer sleep quality.
The survey showed 26.6 per cent of people had increased their alcohol consumption and 6.9 per cent were smoking more.
Women, single people, low income earners and those with a chronic illness were affected more than those in other categories.
Dr Stanton said the study highlighted the need for a variety of health-promotion strategies to be employed to help people adopt or maintain positive health-related behaviours.
"It will also be necessary to conduct ongoing evaluation of the impact of lockdown rules and social distancing on health behaviours to inform targeted health promotion strategies."
The study arose from other studies being conducted internationally regarding the impact of COVID-19 on health behaviours and mental health.
It was also informed by the plethora of editorials and opinion pieces in the literature speculating on these potential impacts that were not supported by data from the COVID-19 pandemic.