Lifestyle changes associated with COVID-19 quarantine among young Saudi women: A prospective study

PLoS One. 2021 Apr 29;16(4):e0250625. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0250625. eCollection 2021.


Background: Negative lifestyle behaviors are associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This study aimed to assess lifestyle changes affecting weight, sleep, mental health, physical activity, and dietary habits prospectively from before COVID-19 to during lockdown.

Methods: A total of 297 Saudi women, aged 19-30 years (mean age, 20.7 ± 1.4 years), were interviewed at two time points, before and during the quarantine. The data collected included anthropometrics, sociodemographic data, clinical history, food frequency questionnaire responses, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores, Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) responses, and Perceived Stress Scale measures. In addition, during quarantine, COVID-19 and nutrition-related information and Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores were collected. Multivariate multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to examine the indicators of weight gain and loss from before COVID-19 (baseline) until during lockdown.

Results: Although approximately half of the participants did not report a weight change, 30% revealed weight loss and 18%, weight gain. The variables associated with increased weight gain were self-quarantine since COVID-19 started (OR: 5.17, 95% CI: 1.57-17.01, p = 0.007), age (OR: 1.53, 1.03-2.28, p = 0.04), and stress at baseline and during lockdown (OR: 1.15, 1.03-1.29, p = 0.01; OR: 1.10, 1.01-1.19, p = 0.03, respectively). The variables associated with a reduced risk of weight gain were the GPAQ score during lockdown (OR: 0.16, 0.04-0.66, p = 0.01), coffee consumption (OR: 0.36, 0.19-0.67, p = 0.01), and total sleep time (OR: 0.70, 0.51-0.97, p = 0.03).

Conclusion: While most young Saudi women experienced no weight change during the COVID-19 lockdown, one-third lost weight and a significant proportion gained weight. Factors associated with weight, such as stress, sleep hours, physical activity, and coffee consumption, highlight the need to carefully consider those at risk during future circumstances that may require lockdowns. These factors could also aid in implementing policies for future lockdowns and support those most at risk of gaining weight.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quarantine*
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The study was funded by Deputyship for Research and Innovation, Ministry of Education, Saudi through project no. IFKSURG-1441-346. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.