UK lockdown life: Binge eating, more alcohol, less exercise

LONDON (Reuters) – People have been binge eating, drinking more, exercising less and suffering increased anxiety during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to preliminary findings of a UK study on Monday, with knock-on impacts likely on rates of obesity and mental illness.

An online survey of around 800 adults in England who were asked about their health and habits during late June and early July found a stark rise in negative mental health, coupled with unhealthy eating and drinking, poor sleep and less exercise.

Younger adults appeared to be disproportionately suffering from sadness and anxiety, while 46% of survey participants said they had been less active during lockdown.

Many also reported binge eating or said they were eating more unhealthy, processed snacks and drinking more alcohol.

The survey comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson launches a campaign to urge Britons to get fitter and slimmer and bring down rates obesity that are also a risk factor for COVID-19.

“COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in increased levels of anxiety, poor sleep, persistent sadness, binge eating, suicidal thoughts, snacking, consumption of alcohol and reduced levels of physical activity,” said Stanley Ulijaszek, a professor of human ecology and director of Oxford University’s Unit of Biocultural Variation and Obesity, who co-led the study.

“These changes have potential long-term consequences for obesity rates and chronic disease more broadly.”

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