Binge eating, alcohol and less physical activity hit England’s mental health during COVID-19 lockdown, say Oxford researchers

Poor nutrition and less physical activity, during lockdown, adversely affected mental health in England, according to preliminary findings today from an Oxford University study.

Monday, 27th July 2020, 12:02 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 12:05 pm
Drinking during lockdown is cited as one of the causes of worse mental health according to new study findings

The worrying results come from a survey from the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity (UBVO). It shows poor eating and reduced physical activity have been important factors in negative mental health during lockdown.

The survey reveals:

- A stark rise in negative mental health since the start of lockdown measures - with younger adults disproportionately suffering

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- Decreased physical activity - 46% of participants are less active

- Increased binge eating and consumption of processed snacks and alcohol.

Stanley Ulijaszek, Professor of Human Ecology and UBVO Director, said: ‘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. These changes have potential long-term consequences for obesity rates and chronic disease more broadly."

More than 800 adults in England, aged between 18 - 81, took part in the electronic survey between June 19 and July 6. They were questioned about mental health, eating and physical activity before lockdown, during early lockdown and at the time of survey.