Half of brits admit to overeating & gaining weight during lockdown

Published 24 June, 2020
  • One in two people (48%) have eaten more during lockdown and one in four (42%) admit to putting on weight
  • 44% of Brits are feeling more anxious
  • But as lockdown eases, 46% vow to start exercising more regularly, as 45% of the nation wants to lose weight and 37% strive to put wellbeing first

LONDON (24th June 2020) — New research commissioned by WW, WeightWatchers, to learn more about the nation’s wellbeing throughout the lockdown period, reveals that half of Brits admitted to overeating, exercising less and becoming more anxious during lockdown.

With daily routines disrupted, one in two people (48%) admitted to eating more. Chocolate and biscuits were the go-to comfort food with two in five (40%) reaching for the sugary treats, followed by more savoury snacks such as crisps, which could explain why 42% of people claim to have put on weight. 

Despite the popularity of home workouts, the majority of people said they’ve also been exercising less. With a more sedentary lifestyle becoming the new norm, nearly one in two people (46%) claimed to be less active since working from home.

Since the start of lockdown on 23rd March, the UK was forced to adopt a new normal, staying indoors, limiting exercise, working from home and shopping for groceries as little as possible. As we slowly start to get back to a sense of normality, WW has investigated how 93 days of lockdown has impacted the UK’s mental and physical health.

Almost a third of people (29%) are drinking more alcohol during lockdown, with 36% of 35-44 year olds increasing their drinking the most.

The lockdown measures have also impacted the UK’s overall wellbeing and mental health,  46% of people are bored, 44% are more anxious whilst 42% admit to being tired and 36% admit to feeling stressed. Women are the most likely to feel anxious (over 50%), whilst 18-24 year olds are the most likely to feel bored (63%) or describe their lockdown mood as lazy (55%). 

With increased levels of stress and anxiety coupled with overeating and less exercise, 1 in 4 adults (25%) say that they have developed a more negative self-image  and one in four (38%) say that they are less concerned about their personal appearance. 

However, change is on the way. As more shops open on the high street and with lockdown rules beginning to relax, Brit’s new priorities are to exercise regularly (46%), lose weight (45%) and improve wellbeing (37%).

Anna Hill, SVP, General Manager at WW UK said: 

“The past few months have been challenging for everybody and we’ve had to deal with a lot of stress 

and a lack of structure in our schedules, which has had a huge impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing and we were really concerned about some of the findings of this research. However, we’re really reassured to see that many people want to prioritise their health and fitness, especially at a time when it’s more important than ever before. People are reappraising their lives and are more aware now of what they need to do for themselves to be healthy. At WW, our focus has always been to support our members in looking after their health and wellbeing and we’re committed to helping people stay healthy and well during these challenging times and beyond. We've seen a big demand for our digital app, as it does exactly that, helps people eat well, gets them inspired to be active, and to stay connected to others for support and guidance.” 

Leading psychologist, Honey Langcaster-James said:

“There are so many studies that show clear links between aspects of our physical health and wellbeing and our mental and emotional health. Stress, anxiety, loneliness and financial concerns can all lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet can reduce mood and overall psychological functioning. 

Social distancing has led many of us to become quite inactive and even sedentary. So I’m delighted to see these survey results suggest many people do recognise that they’ve not been engaging in healthy behaviours because facing the issue is key. There seems to be a high level of motivation for us all to focus on getting healthy again. As the world begins to wake up and get moving, it is a great opportunity to address our general state of health and wellbeing, and psychologically speaking, realising that things can and need to change, is the first step on that important journey.”

 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2210 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 10th June 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
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