New research shows that lifestyle and financial constraints that come from coronavirus blockages are making people eat more processed foods.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – What is the point of working out, adjusting your diet and sculpting the perfect beach body if you never get the chance to show off? All the physical inactivity, time spent at home and emotional stress during coronavirus blockages can escalate the obesity epidemic, a new study from the University of Copenhagen reveals.
In short, researchers believe the coronavirus is creating a perfect storm of psychosocial insecurity that could lead to a much larger number of obese individuals over the coming months and years. They say certain measures must be taken to keep everyone safe from COVID-19 without sacrificing “their metabolic health”.
“We are concerned that policymakers do not fully understand how strategies such as business blockages and closures can promote overweight – a chronic disease with serious health implications but with some credible treatment options,” says the professor. associate, Christoffer Clemmensen, of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR), in a publication.
At the forefront of researchers’ concerns is the long-established trend of people with fewer “economic resources” often eating unhealthy, more processed foods. Thanks to the beating that the global economy is receiving, millions of people around the world are suddenly in a worse financial situation.
“It is likely that more people will turn to these forms of food as more people lose their jobs and experience economic hardship,” explains study co-author Professor Michael Bang Petersen, of the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University.
How social distance is affecting mental health, eating habits
Another big factor in all of this is social distancing. The practice of staying away from other people during this pandemic is, of course, a necessary evil. But with regard to the fight against obesity, it is almost certainly worsening the situation. Staying away from friends and family immediately increases stress and anxiety. This, combined with the fact that so many people are sitting at home with nothing else to do anyway, promises to encourage overeating and excessive snacking.
Let’s also not forget how difficult it is for most people to get a meaningful workout at home. It is easy to understand why experts call on the proverbial overweight alarm.
According to Professor Thorkild IA Sørensen from CBMR at the University of Copenhagen, one of the study’s co-authors, modern science still does not fully understand the full purpose of the relationship between mental health, finances and the risk of overweight.
“We know there is a link between an overweight and a person’s class and mental health, but we do not understand exactly how they affect,” he notes.
More research is needed to fully understand all the elements of cause and effect played out here. However, researchers are confident in their scientific expectations that social distancing and rising unemployment will lead to obese individuals.
Researchers suggest that governments and health organizations alike keep these metabolic considerations in mind when deciding on control strategies. With enough effort, it should not prove impossible to develop several ways to keep people safe from COVID-19 while also maintaining metabolic health.
The study is published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.
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