COVID-19 restrictions supported participants in weight loss program, but had negative impact on mood and behaviors

COVID-19 restrictions supported participants in weight loss program, but had negative impact on mood and behaviors

weight loss
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

New research presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO2021, online, 10-13 May) concludes that the first lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic was an important driver in the motivation to lose weight in participants of an online weight management program started in late 2020. Some participants associated the lockdown with weight gain through blocking social opportunities and access to facilities, explain the authors who include Meigan Thomson of the University of Glasgow, UK, and colleagues.

“Behavioral programs have been shown to be effective in improving health and weight outcomes in adults living with obesity,” explain the authors. “The restrictions and changes imposed on the public due to COVID-19 resulted in a new experience and environment for weight loss. The aim of this study was to assess the perceived impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on participation and the weight loss journey.”

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 participants. Participants were predominantly female (83%) with a mean age of 49 years and a mean BMI of 31.6 kg/m2, falling in the obese range. Participants were recruited from a 12-week online behavioral weight loss program called “Second Nature” (see details in link below). The program has a continuous recruitment strategy and new groups start every week. Those participants who started the program between late October and January they were sent an email from the program explaining the study with contact details of the study authors, whom they could e-mail if they were happy to take part.

Interviews were conducted mid-way through the program in November and December 2020. The interviews asked participants about their barriers and facilitators to their weight loss journey and about the role that COVID-19 had played in their experience. Specifically, participants were asked about obesity as a risk factor for poorer COVID-19 outcomes and the impact the pandemic has had on their social life, environment, and weight.

The interviews revealed that COVID-19 played a role in participants weight loss journeys before

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