New data from ERS [Economic Research Service] shows that U.S. adults ages 20 and older reported a 3% higher prevalence of obesity during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The study analyzed data from the CDC from March 13, 2020, to March 18, 2021, compared to a pre-pandemic baseline period of January 1, 2019, to March 12, 2020.


Four behaviors that can influence the risk of obesity—exercise, hours of sleep, alcohol use, and cigarette smoking—were also examined to help explain the change in the adult obesity rate during the pandemic.  Participation in exercise rose 4.4% over the period, and people slept 1.5% longer, both associated with reducing obesity. Meanwhile, the number of days in the period of a month in which alcohol was consumed was 2.7% higher, and cigarette smoking dropped by 4%.


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