Increased snacking and not exercising as much as usual made it tough for most people to manage weight during Covid-19 lockdown, says a survey involving over 800 adults in Britain.
Most of the respondents said their difficulties also stemmed from increased anxiety or stress, and not being able to get hold of healthier food, according to the results of the survey presented at The European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO) being held online from September 1-4.
However, those questioned who had received weight-management support from a slimming club continued to lose weight during this time, exercised more, and reported higher overall well-being compared to respondents from the general population.
The new research was led by a group-based weight-loss organisation, Slimming World, as part of their "Health and Wellbeing Study" which is surveying new members regularly over the course of one year about aspects of their health and lifestyle.
"Lockdown inevitably had an effect on our choices around food, drink and activity," said Sarah-Elizabeth Bennett, Slimming World's Senior Research Associate, who led the study.
"Given that 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."
Between April 9 and May 16, 222 Slimming World members and a representative sample of 637 adults in the general population completed an online survey asking their opinions about their general health, mood, diet, alcohol intake, physical activity, and weight management.
The four key reasons given by people who found it tough to manage weight included difficulty getting to the shops and obtaining the usual healthy foods; boredom and being at home leading to increased snacking; higher levels of stress and anxiety leading to comfort eating; and more sedentary time and exercising less.