According to research two-thirds of adults struggled to keep their weight down during lockdown as boredom and stress triggered comfort eating.
Britons found it more difficult to get to the shops for healthy foods, snacked due to boredom, resorted to comfort foods as a result of stress and exercised less, a survey of 800 adults for Slimming World found.
The report said: ‘A number reported snacking more frequently on unhealthy foods due to boredom, being at home and being out of a normal routine or lack of structure to the day.
Being at home during the day with children who are snacking was mentioned as increasing temptation to join in with snacks.’
The study included 222 Slimming World members.
Similar proportions between the two groups – 65 per cent among non-members and 59 per cent of members – admitted finding managing their weight in lockdown ‘very’ or ‘somewhat difficult’.
Study lead author Dr Sarah-Elizabeth Bennett said: ‘Lockdown inevitably had an effect on our choices around food, drink and activity.
‘Given that excess weight is associated with a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and with lots of people coming out of lockdown feeling concerned about their weight and health, the findings of the study show behaviour change support is more important now than ever.’
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘This report is welcome and confirms the effect of two factors not immediately associated with obesity – worry and anxiety. Both give rise to comfort eating and snacking.’
A report by Public Health England (PHE) concluded that obesity increases the likelihood of dying from Covid-19 by around 40 per cent.
Two-thirds of people in the UK are obese or overweight, and ministers have recently unveiled a strategy to reduce obesity through measures including a ban on unhealthy snacks at checkouts.
Restaurants will have to display the calories contained in items on menus and there will be a consultation into doing the same for alcohol.
The survey was carried out between 9 April and 16 May.
Participants were asked about their general health, mood, diet, alcohol intake, physical activity and weight management.