The bad (and good) habits that Covid-19 left us

The bad (and good) habits that Covid-19 left us
The bad (and good) habits that Covid-19 left us

During the lockdown we ate more and worse, and exercised less. But we also consumed less alcohol. Here’s what we bring with us from pandemic and quarantine

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The pandemic from Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown have drastically changed the routine of all of us. In addition to, of course, those who have been directly affected by the virus, even those who have not been infected have had to deal with distancing and quarantine, with all that followed. Several studies, in recent months, have tried to understand and measure what was theimpact of the pandemic on vita daily, particularly in terms of new habits acquired, both bad and good. And the results, as has often happened for other issues, sometimes seem not in agreement, even contradictory. Let’s examine some of them.


One of the latest studies, in chronological order, concerns eating habits: was conducted in the United States, on a sample of about 2 thousand people, and showed that the pandemic has indeed affected the way we eat. The authors of the work, in particular, found a decrease in the consumption of many food groups, especially healthier ones such as vegetables and wholemeal flours, compared to the period before the pandemic: “When the infections started to rise”, he said Caroline One, postdoc of the American Cancer Society, one of the authors of the work, “We have seen a compulsive shopping rush, problems with food supplies, rising food prices and rising unemployment rates. These are all factors that have an influence on access to food, and we wanted to find out if and how the population’s diet had changed “.

To understand this, the scientists looked at a subset of participants in a larger previous study, the Cancer Prevention Studyu 3 (Cps-3), which he had enlisted approx 300 thousand men and women US from 2006; from 2015 onwards, the participants filled out questionnaires, every three years, with the aim of monitoring their diet.

In 2020, the researchers selected 2,335 volunteers from the entire sample and involved them in a pilot test for a study on supply e Covid: “We already had plans to study people’s eating habits in greater depth”Um explains again. “With the arrival of the pandemic we decided to try to understand if Covid had any effect: in addition to the specific questions on nutrition, we have included other more general ones, to understand if the pandemic had any effect on physical and mental health , on access to health care and financial security “.

Comparing the responses collected in 2018 and those collected in 2020, in full pandemic, the researchers observed that most of the volunteers were convinced that theirs regime feeding not much had changed while the data real said the contrary, which indicates how much personal perceptions were disconnected from reality. In particular, the comparison between the questionnaires showed that there was indeed a significant reduction in the consumption of healthful foods, more pronounced among women and the Black and Hispanic communities.

Another survey, conducted by the experts of the American Psychology Association, revealed that 42% of Americans admit they gained weight during the pandemic, with an average weight gain of 13 chili; and a study validated by Jama Network Openperformed on a very small sample of 300 people, whose scales were connected remotely to a doctor’s office, showed that all participants, regardless of social class and place of residence, began to gain weight during the months of the lockdown. , at an average rate of one kilo per month.

But, speaking of contradictory results, we must also mention the results of another work, this time relating to Italy and conducted byObservatory on surpluses, recoveries and food waste (Oersa) of Create Food and Nutrition. The study examined 2900 people residing in all regions of Italy (75% females and 25% males) and, again analyzing the results of a questionnaire, showed a effect opposite to compared to that observed overseas: it would seem that in our country during the pandemic the consumption of healthy foods increased, including vegetables (+ 33%), fruit (+ 29%), legumes (+ 26.5%), water (+ 22%), extra virgin olive oil (+ 21.5%).

At the same time, however, 44.5% of the interviewees also admitted to having eaten more desserts, and 16% of having consumed more wine; the lockdown period was also an opportunity to experiment with new foods (+ 40%) and new recipes (+ 31%), for an overall improvement in eating habits and the adoption of a more eco-sustainable lifestyle (the survey highlighted that separate collection has also increased and food waste has decreased). Agree, however, the results onweight gain: 44% of respondents said they gained weight due to higher calorie intake and less physical activity, and 37% of respondents admitted that they need to go on a diet.

Consumption of alcohol

The results of another very recent study conducted with the European Alcohol and Covid-19 Survey on alcohol consumption during the pandemic. The work covered 21 European nations and focused on the first months of the pandemic, and showed that there have been significant reductions in the average per capita alcohol consumption in all countries observed, except theIreland and the UK. The authors of the work, in particular, collected data on about 32 thousand alcohol users in the period April-August 2020, asking them the frequency of the occasions in which they drank, the quantity of alcohol consumed on each of these occasions, the frequency of heavier episodic drinking and whether each of these elements had changed in the past month. One in five attendees reported “Substantial” O “alti” stress levels due to the pandemic, and more than half said they suffered from stress due to a sudden break from their routine. For the latter, the decrease in alcohol consumption was less than for the others.

Physical activity

Again, there are still not solid enough data to allow unambiguous conclusions to be drawn. A study published in March 2021 in the journal Plos One, however, conducted on a sample extremely small (63 volunteers) showed that changes in physical activity would not be as significant, although the researchers highlight that “They could accumulate over time until they become”. The authors of the work traced, using the data collected via smartwatches, the habits of the participants, observing an average increase in sleep of about 30 minutes per day and a reduction of 50 minutes per day of “Light physical activity”, probably due to the interruption of work-related activities (leaving the house, taking the stairs, etc.).


The analysis of the habits of the sleep led to results mixed and disagree: some studies show that people slept more and more soundly; others, however, the exact opposite, with shorter and lower quality sleep, troubled by nightmares, especially among young adults. A study conducted in China showed an increase in the incidence ofinsomnia.

Time spent in front of the screen

On the other hand, the results of the works relating to the time spent in front of the screens. Which, unsurprisingly, it is increased in all age groups. In young people and adolescents the phenomenon is linked to both distance learning that the impossibility of carrying out outdoor activities, which meant that they spent most of their free time playing video games or watching movies and TV series. A Canadian study calculated the increase in screen time at 87% for children and adolescents and 74% and 61% for mothers and fathers, respectively.

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