Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Lifestyle Behaviors in Children with Obesity Living in Verona, Italy: A Longitudinal Study

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Aug;28(8):1382-1385. doi: 10.1002/oby.22861. Epub 2020 Jul 10.


Objective: The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that youths with obesity, when removed from structured school activities and confined to their homes during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, will display unfavorable trends in lifestyle behaviors.

Methods: The sample included 41 children and adolescents with obesity participating in a longitudinal observational study located in Verona, Italy. Lifestyle information including diet, activity, and sleep behaviors was collected at baseline and 3 weeks into the national lockdown during which home confinement was mandatory. Changes in outcomes over the two study time points were evaluated for significance using paired t tests.

Results: There were no changes in reported vegetable intake; fruit intake increased (P = 0.055) during the lockdown. By contrast, potato chip, red meat, and sugary drink intakes increased significantly during the lockdown (P value range, 0.005 to < 0.001). Time spent in sports activities decreased by 2.30 (SD 4.60) h/wk (P = 0.003), and sleep time increased by 0.65 (SD 1.29) h/d (P = 0.003). Screen time increased by 4.85 (SD 2.40) h/d (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Recognizing these adverse collateral effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic lockdown is critical in avoiding depreciation of weight control efforts among youths afflicted with excess adiposity. Depending on duration, these untoward lockdown effects may have a lasting impact on a child's or adolescent's adult adiposity level.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Child
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Diet*
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Life Style*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sleep
  • Social Isolation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires