Why women piled on more lockdown pounds than men: Mothers were more likely to bear the brunt of childcare during Covid shut-ins… but men generally ‘carried on as they were’, study shows
- Researchers analysed data on adults and found curbs had a ‘differential impact’
- Women were 44 per cent more likely to go from overweight to obese than men
- Younger Britons were also more than twice as likely as pensioners to get fatter
With curbs on our ability to get out and about freely, we all feared piling on the pounds during lockdown.
But it seems you had more chance of putting on weight if you were a woman.
Experts say they were still more likely to bear the brunt of childcare – and were therefore stuck indoors more looking after the family.
Men, on the other hand, generally ‘carried on as they were’.
Researchers analysed data on 938,000 British adults and found Covid curbs had a ‘differential impact’ on the sexes.
Women were 44 per cent more likely to go from overweight to obese, with 13 per cent of women doing so compared with just 9 per cent of men.
Researchers analysed data on 938,000 British adults and found Covid curbs had a ‘differential impact’ on the sexes (stock image)
Professor Thomas Yates, who worked on the University of Leicester study, suggested that many mothers were relied upon to take care of home schooling and were less able to go out and keep active.
He added: ‘I suspect lockdown had a differential impact on many women’s lives compared to men.
‘Men pretty much carried on as they were – they just worked from home instead. Meanwhile those school runs, supermarket shops, those types of things that are potentially getting women out of the house more often – they suddenly stopped.
‘And then you have to deal with home schooling kids and just a very different way of living, which was probably quite stressful.
‘So not only was it reducing activity levels and changing diets, it was stress and mental health problems probably playing into that as well.’
Asked why men fared better, Professor Yates said: ‘I suspect it is more because men are probably quite good at carrying on pretty much as they were.
‘Obviously you had things like the pub taken away, but in terms of work patterns, I would have thought there was less disruption.’
The analysis, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands, also revealed younger Britons were more than twice as likely as pensioners to get fatter during the pandemic.
The analysis, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, the Netherlands, also revealed younger Britons were more than twice as likely as pensioners to get fatter during the pandemic (stock image)
Some 17 per cent of under-45s went from overweight to obese compared with 7 per cent of over-75s.
Professor Yates said: ‘All that socialising, all that need to go out of the house – to the gym, to work – was suddenly stopped, so there was a really noticeable difference… We know from children and young people, anxiety, stress, depression… the pandemic had a marked effect on people’s mental health.
‘So if you combine a pandemic of mental health with lockdown, you’re going to get people eating more, exercising less and gaining weight, so that’s probably what we’re seeing in that group.’
Professor Yates added that weight gain in young adults and women could lead to a higher risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer over the coming decades. He called on more action ‘to reverse the effects of lockdown’.
Dr David Kloecker, also from the University of Leicester, said: ‘Prolonged periods of lockdown disrupted daily routines making it challenging for people to eat healthily and keep fit. Nevertheless, more research is needed to understand the reasons behind these changes in body weight and obesity levels.’
Obese ‘should face drink limits’
Guideline drinking limits should be set lower for fat people as alcohol causes them greater harm, experts say.
Overweight boozers who follow the UK’s recommendations of no more than 14 units a week are three times more likely to develop some cancers than those who are slim.
A University of Sydney study examined data on 400,000 UK adults aged between 40 and 69 and looked at how many developed alcohol-related cancer during a 12-year period.
They found higher fat levels appeared to ‘amplify’ the harmful effects of alcohol.
Compared to ‘never drinkers’ with the lowest body fat, those with the most fat who drank within alcohol limits were 53 per cent more likely to develop cancers including oral, throat, larynx, liver, bowel, stomach and breast.
But those with the least body fat who drank within limits were only 19 per cent more at risk.
People with the most fat who drank above limits were 61 per cent more likely to get cancer.