How one pandemic has exacerbated another: obesity in a locked down world

Posted On: 7th May 2020

With over half the world in lockdown – and this number steadily increasing as the days go by – physical activity, whether by governmental restriction or societal encouragement, is seeing large rates of decline. While there has been an increase in exercising indoors to maintain an active lifestyle, as well as a concerted effort to stick to a healthy diet amongst some experts fear that the Covid-19 pandemic will worsen already alarming rates of global obesity[1].

The onset of the Covid-19 crisis saw a sudden rush to stockpile from supermarkets and online delivery services. As households hoarded to prepare for weeks of isolation, tinned, processed and dry foods, such as pasta and rice, were favoured options due to their longevity and relative low cost. Unhealthy diets, combined with physical inactivity and overeating, are the leading causes of nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes[2]

With regards to physical activity, social distancing and home orders reduce the opportunities for exercise, particularly for those living in smaller flats or houses with no outdoor spaces. Furthermore, sedentary activities such as watching television and playing video games are expected to increase under social distancing orders. Increased screen time is associated with greater prevalence of overweight and obesity, which is in part due to the association between this type of activity and increased snacking on unhealthy foods.

With a global increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes and the rising costs of overall medication, treatment and insulin associated with this, the UK and all European countries need a safe, effective way to reduce both the morbidity and the spiraling health-care costs caused by type 2 diabetes. It is feared that that public health bodies will struggle to manage the ever-increasing rising number of people who have type 2 diabetes[3], who already represent a vulnerable group in the context of Covid-19.

Consumers can look to minimise these risks and maintain good habits by considering weight management programmes which utilise formula foods, as they provide an effective way of helping overweight and obese individuals lose weight more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. TDRs have also shown promising results in helping people with type 2 diabetes. However, anyone who has had a COVID-19 experience or potential symptoms of the infection should always seek medical guidance before looking to lose weight. TDMR Europe is the European trade body for manufacturers and distributors of formula diet products, which provide weight loss and weight management programmes for the overweight and obese.