The pandemic and its associated measures also resulted in a reduction in physical activity for many people, and changes in how people ate and consumed alcohol. While it’s too soon to say whether the pandemic worsened obesity or not, it was found that, on average, more people gained weight than those who lost weight.
While there is no “silver bullet” solution, effective policy tools are available. Policy makers should implement comprehensive policy packages that include both “downstream” interventions focused on changing people’s behaviour as well as “upstream” interventions that change the environment in which people live, through food reformulation and increased green spaces.
It must also be recognised that obesity disproportionately affects people with a lower socio-economic status: the same people who have were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Targeting the needs of disadvantaged groups by subsidising healthy foods and communicating programmes in diverse languages can have a significant impact.