Students self-isolating after Covid-19 outbreaks in UK varsities. Image Source: IANS News

New York, Oct 23 : A new research is adding to the growing body of evidence that COVID-19 lockdown dramatically altered our personal habits, reduced mental health, sleep and exercise.

Researchers also found that the lockdown's effects were magnified among people with obesity.

"The stay-at-home orders did result in one major health positive. Overall, healthy eating increased because we ate out less frequently. However, we snacked more," said study author Leanne Redman from Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in the US.

"We got less exercise. We went to bed later and slept more poorly. Our anxiety levels doubled," Redman added.

The global survey, published in the journal Obesity, evaluated the inadvertent changes in health behaviours that took place under the pandemic's widespread restrictions.

"Overall, people with obesity improved their diets the most. But they also experienced the sharpest declines in mental health and the highest incidence of weight gain," Redman said.

One third of people with obesity gained weight during the lockdown, compared with 20.5 per cent of people with normal weight or overweight.

The online survey study ran during April. More than 12,000 people worldwide took a look at the survey and 7,754 completed the detailed online questionnaire.

A majority of the respondents were from the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, and more than 50 other countries also responded.

The study demonstrated that chronic diseases like obesity affect our health beyond the physical.

The research team would like physicians and scientists to modify the way they manage patients with obesity in two ways -- by increasing the number of mental health screenings during and after the pandemic, and by remaining connected to patients/study participants through remote visits and telehealth to prevent irreversible health effects from the pandemic.

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