While many of us spent weeks confined to our houses during the first wave of the global pandemic, it seems this period of self-isolation had a huge impact on our personal habits. A new global survey has looked at diet, exercise, mental health and sleep patterns during this time.
"The stay-at-home orders did result in one major health positive. Overall, healthy eating increased because we ate out less frequently,” explains Leanne Redman, PhD, Associate Executive Director for Scientific Education at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre.
“However, we snacked more. We got less exercise. We went to bed later and slept more poorly. Our anxiety levels doubled."
Another finding from the study showed that people who were obese experienced more magnified behavioural habits during the quarantine period.
"Overall, people with obesity improved their diets the most. But they also experienced the sharpest declines in mental health and the highest incidence of weight gain," Dr Redman said. "One-third of people with obesity gained weight during the lockdown, compared to 20.5 percent of people with normal weight or overweight."
The online study took place during April, with more than 12,000 people worldwide clicking on it and 7,754 completing the lengthy list of questions. More than 50 countries were represented, including the UK, Canada and Australia, with most participants based in the US.
The study is being hailed as a “ground-breaking” insight into global behaviours.
"This study is the first to survey thousands of people across the globe on lifestyle behaviour changes in response to stay-at-home orders,” executive director John Kirwan, PhD, said. “The study demonstrates that chronic diseases like obesity affect our health beyond the physical."