Our aim is evaluating the changes in weight and dietary habits in a sample of outpatients with obesity after 1 month of enforced lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Italy. In this observational retrospective study, the patients of our Obesity Unit were invited to answer to a 12-question multiple-choice questionnaire relative to weight changes, working activity, exercise, dietary habits, and conditions potentially impacting on nutritional choices. A multivariate regression analysis was performed to evaluate the associations among weight/BMI changes and the analyzed variables. A total of 150 subjects (91.5%) completed the questionnaire. Mean self-reported weight gain was ≈1.5 kg (p < 0.001). Lower exercise, self-reported boredom/solitude, anxiety/depression, enhanced eating, consumption of snacks, unhealthy foods, cereals, and sweets were correlated with a significantly higher weight gain. Multiple regression analyses showed that increased education (inversely, β = -1.15; 95%CI -2.13, -0.17, p = 0.022), self-reported anxiety/depression (β = 1.61; 0.53, 2.69, p = 0.004), and not consuming healthy foods (β = 1.48; 0.19, 2.77, p = 0.026) were significantly associated with increased weight gain. The estimated direct effect of self-reported anxiety/depression on weight was 2.07 kg (1.07, 3.07, p < 0.001). Individuals with obesity significantly gained weight 1 month after the beginning of the quarantine. The adverse mental burden linked to the COVID-19 pandemic was greatly associated with increased weight gain.
Keywords: COVID-19 infection; dietary habits; lockdown; obesity.