Women more likely than men to gain weight during pandemic, study shows

Research also found that vast majority of people stayed around the same weight

The report comes at a time when awareness is growing over how obesity often correlates with severe Covid-19. PA
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Women were more likely than men to gain weight during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, a study suggests.

Experts also found that both sexes under the age of 45 were more likely to put on the pounds than those in other age groups.

However, study found that the vast majority of people stayed around the same weight or did not move into another body mass index (BMI) category.

The report comes at a time when awareness is growing over how obesity often correlates with severe Covid-19.

The new study, which involved almost a million adults in the UK, is being presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht.

It used data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) of more than 200,000 UK medical practices, which includes information on BMI right before lockdown in March 2020 and in the year or so afterwards.

Of the 938,164 people included in the initial analysis, 32 per cent were classed as a healthy weight before lockdown, while 35 per cent were overweight and 33 per cent were obese.

Of those who were obese, they were regarded as either class 1 (BMI of 30 to 35), class 2 (35 to 40) or class 3 (over 40).

About 58 per cent of those in the study were women and 83 per cent were white.

Deeper analysis of 273,529 people found that most (83 per cent to 93 per cent) remained in the same BMI category before and after lockdown.

Of those with a healthy weight, 83 per cent remained in the same BMI category post-lockdown, 14 per cent became overweight or obese, and about 3 per cent moved into the underweight category.

Of those who were overweight, 11 per cent gained weight while 12 per cent lost weight.

A woman uses a scale. PA

Meanwhile, of those who were obese, 9 per cent lost weight and moved down to the overweight, normal or underweight categories, while 5 per cent moved up at least one category.

The study found that more women than men gained weight. For example, in the overweight category, 13 per cent of women versus 9 per cent of men became obese.

Similarly, compared with older age groups, those under 45 were more likely to gain weight and move up at least one BMI category post-lockdown.

In one example, 17 per cent of younger, overweight adults moved into obese categories post-lockdown.

The authors, who comes from institutions including the University of Leicester and Leicester General Hospital, said that overall, more women than men moved up a weight category, while people aged over 75 “were more likely to lose weight compared to other age categories post lockdown”.

“Prolonged periods of lockdown disrupted daily routines making it challenging for people to eat healthily and keep fit, with emotional eating and sports club closures likely intensifying the trend,” said Dr David Kloecker, who worked on the study.

“Nevertheless, more research is needed to understand the reasons behind these changes in body weight and obesity levels.”

Thomas Yates, who also worked on the research, said: “The implications of even modest weight gain at a population level in younger adults and women could translate into more diabetes, heart disease, cancers and other serious obesity-related health problems over the coming decades in these populations unless action is taken to reverse the effects of lockdown.”

“These data also suggest societal inequalities, with black individuals more likely to put on pandemic weight and move up at least one BMI category compared to other ethnic groups,” he added.

Updated: May 05, 2022, 10:47 PM
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