MONDAY, April 4, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Significantly higher average body mass index (BMI) and obesity prevalence rates were seen among U.S. adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online April 4 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Brandon J. Restrepo, Ph.D., from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., used data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2011 to 2020) to investigate changes in average BMI, obesity prevalence rates, and four obesity-related risk factors in the U.S. adult population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared with the 2019 and prepandemic 2020 period, during the pandemic, Restrepo observed significantly higher average BMI (+0.6 percent) and obesity prevalence rates (+3 percent) among U.S. adults. Additionally, during the pandemic, there were significantly higher rates for any exercise participation (+4.4 percent), average sleep hours in a 24-hour period (+1.5 percent), and average alcoholic drink days in the past month (+2.7 percent); lower rates were seen for smoking at least some days (−4 percent).

“Our results, which are broadly consistent with what prior studies have found using smaller and less representative samples, contribute additional insights that can serve to inform policymakers about the state of the U.S. adult obesity epidemic and obesity-related risk factors,” Restrepo said in a statement. “Because obesity affects some adults more than others, it would be helpful to further explore the changes in the rates of adult obesity by demographic subgroup and socioeconomic status.”

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