During a pandemic, U.S. adults exercised less on average, drank and smoked more, and spent more time in front of a computer or television, according to a study released Tuesday.
In October 2020, UCLA researchers surveyed five “lifestyles” among American adults: exercise time, screen time, fast food, alcohol, and smoking.
Compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic, exercise time was reduced by 31%, screen time by 60%, alcohol consumption by 23%, and smoking by 9%.
The researchers said the surveys were conducted in October, so the results could reflect lifestyle changes at the time during the pandemic.
Jian Li, a professor of environmental health sciences at UCLA, said in a statement that measures and recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 were “vital”. However, these measures have led to a “radical change in normal daily activities”.
Average fast food consumption decreased from 1.41 times in the week before the pandemic to 0.96 times per week. According to the study, 77 percent of those surveyed saw an increase in fast food consumption, while 23 percent saw an increase in fast food consumption.
Livey Chen, an associate professor at UCLA’s epidemiology department and author of the study, said it could be related to staying home during the pandemic and the closure of many fast-food restaurants, the statement said.
The findings are consistent with previous studies in Canada, Italy, Brazil and Poland that observed changes in unhealthy lifestyles during the pandemic, the researchers said.
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According to the study, black and Hispanic Americans were more prone to unwanted changes in exercise, screen time, fast food, and alcohol than white Americans. In addition, Native Americans have noticed a decrease in exercise time and an increase in fast food consumption.
“No matter how bad these changes are for all Americans, they will disproportionately affect the racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. who are already infected with COVID-19,” Chen said.
The researchers said the impact on these color communities was consistent with previous studies showing that “these groups have a disproportionate impact and suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The study found a decrease in exercise time and an increase in fast food, alcohol, and cigarette consumption among 18- to 29-year-olds compared with those aged 60 and older.
“Future lifestyle interventions may be more effective if they are targeted at high-risk groups that may have disproportionate impacts,” the study said.
According to the researchers, it is necessary to pay attention to the increase in sedentary behavior and other negative effects on lifestyle.
“As the pandemic continues, it remains to be seen whether this will continue and affect people’s quality of life and health later on,” Lee said. “But it’s clear that during and after the pandemic, people urgently need resources and support to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.”
UCLA also released a guide in August on how to assess and modify alcohol consumption during a pandemic. The guide encouraged asking simple questions about personal alcohol consumption and setting clear goals to reduce alcohol consumption.
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