More Americans weighed in as obese in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic than the year before. A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicinepublished by Elsevier, presents evidence from a large, nationally representative survey that documents this trend and helps explain the behavioral changes that led to widespread weight gain in 2020.
“Previous studies present evidence that intra-pandemic changes in risky eating behaviors and other health-related behaviors likely contributed to the rapid increase in body weight during this period. sight, smell and stress; and decreased physical activity,” explained lead researcher Brandon J. Restrepo, PhD, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Food Economics Division — Food Economics Branch. Food, Safety and Health, Washington, DC, USA.
Adult obesity in the United States was high and trending upward before the COVID-19 pandemic. While several studies have reported on small, relatively homogeneous online surveys that track weight gain in the US adult population during the initial period of the pandemic, this study is the first to use data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. (BRFSS), a larger national risk factor surveillance system. representative survey of the American adult population. It contains data on health outcomes, health risk behaviors, preventive services and chronic medical conditions.
To estimate global changes in adult obesity prevalence and four obesity-related risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic, analysis of BRFSS data used linear regression models that control age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, household income, marital status. status, number of children, survey year indicators and residence status indicators.
According to BRFSS 2011-2020 analysis of more than 3.5 million US adults (aged 20+), obesity was 3% more prevalent in the year beginning March 2020, compared to the 2019 to pre-pandemic 2020 period. The study also found statistically significant changes among American adults in four risk factors linked to obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic: exercise participation, sleep duration, alcohol consumption and smoking.
While exercise participation and sleep duration were 4.4% and 1.5% higher, respectively, alcohol consumption days were 2.7% higher and smoking prevalence was 4% lower. Overall increases in exercise and sleep were not enough to offset the impact of other behaviors, resulting in an average 0.6% increase in body mass index during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although quitting smoking is a healthy step, it has been known to lead to some weight gain.
“Our results, which are broadly consistent with what previous studies have found using smaller, less representative samples, provide additional insights that can be used to inform policy makers about the state of the obesity epidemic in children. adult in the United States and the risk factors associated with obesity,” noted Dr. Restrepo, adding, “Because obesity affects some adults more than others, it would be useful to explore further changes in adult obesity rates by demographic subgroup and socioeconomic status.”
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