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Weight gain during lockdown

Executive summary

* This note undertook a systematic search of the literature on the subject of weight gain during lockdown.

* It identified three meta-analyses. These are generally the best evidence available as they pool together the individual studies that have been conducted.

* The first meta-analysis looked at the impact of the first lockdown period (March to May 2020) on body weight (BW) and Body Mass Index (BMI) in both adults and adolescents. This pooled 36 studies together. Most of these studies found that body weight increased on average. The average weight gain wasn't huge (1.6kg) but the period examined was short and so this was significant. There were two other interesting findings from the first meta-analysis.

* The second meta-analysis looked at children and adolescents. This found some quite striking results related to body weight, BMI, prevalence of obesity and lifestyles, during lockdown.

* The third meta-analysis studied almost 500,000 people aged from 6 to 86. It included many countries from Brazil to Turkey. This study also reported that weight gain was common. This study was particularly interesting as it explored why weight had increased and not just the size of increase.

* From the time of the first lockdowns, spring 2020, it was known that obesity was a serious risk factor for having a bad outcome with COVID-19 (hospitalisation, Intensive Care Unit or death). The evidence shows that lockdowns made obesity worse. In the three meta-analyses, the authors commented that public policy needs to take this issue into account when considering the impact of lockdowns.


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