It’s harder to be healthy in lockdown, study reveals

New research from Slimming World reveals nearly two in three UK adults are finding it more difficult to manage their weight during the coronavirus pandemic

  • A third are eating more sugary foods (33%)
  • 41% said their mood had been negatively affected as a result of living in lockdown
  • Four in ten say they have been less active (39%)
  • Just under a fifth admitted drinking more alcohol (17%)
  • As the Government and experts confirm links between Covid-19 and obesity, Slimming World’s Dr Jacquie Lavin says that peer support is key in helping people make healthy behaviour changes and successfully manage their weight during the pandemic
  • Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos offers her top tips for staying motivated to lose weight during lockdown

Slimming World's Health and Wellbeing Study also shows that around a fifth of UK adults are eating less fruit (22%), and 16% are eating less veg. The study found that nearly one in five (17%) are consuming more fatty foods and 13% are drinking more sugary drinks.

However, there is some good news, as the study* also revealed that 45% of respondents say they’re finding home cooking more enjoyable than they did before the pandemic. Half (51%) say they are ordering less takeaway food.

With early evidence suggesting people with obesity-related conditions could have an increased risk of dying from the virus, the new stats come as both obesity experts and the UK Government say there has never been a better time to support people adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

Slimming World, which launched virtual groups after temporarily suspending its 19,000 community groups, says the findings clearly show that staying in control of healthy habits is more difficult during lockdown and people need support to manage their weight and health now more than ever.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition & Research
Getting support so you don’t feel alone is incredibly important right now. During lockdown our members are loving the fact they can still attend our virtual groups, where they get the practical tips and expert guidance from our trained Consultants, along with the friendship and community spirit they’ve come to rely on from their usual weekly group
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition & Research

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Nutrition and Research led the study. She says: “In these testing times, worries about your health and the health of those you love, coupled with a ‘new normal’ means people may be feeling more stressed or anxious than usual. They may also feel less inclined to keep up with healthy eating and activity and more inclined to slip into old, less healthy habits.

“Getting support so you don’t feel alone is incredibly important right now. During lockdown our members are loving the fact they can still attend our virtual groups, where they get the practical tips and expert guidance from our trained Consultants, along with the friendship and community spirit they’ve come to rely on from their usual weekly group. In these uncertain times, our virtual groups are giving our members a chance to focus on their goals, to regain control, and to feel a sense of togetherness with their fellow members. They’re celebrating wins, like having more time to cook, discussing challenges and sharing strategies for success. Along a weight-loss journey there are always going to be bumps in the road, so having a great support network and learning how to stay on track whatever life throws at you is vital to staying fit and well in the long-term.”

Commenting on the study, Psychologist, Author and Broadcaster Dr Linda Papadopoulos says: “Staying motivated on a weight loss journey can be tough at the moment, which is perfectly understandable given that all of our lives have been turned upside down. While focusing on your own motivation is crucial, it can be all too easy to lose sight of your weight loss goals when you’re feeling anxious about things and getting the support of others is invaluable in staying committed. By sharing challenges and hearing how others are staying on track as well as getting emotional support we’re much more likely to succeed. Empowering yourself to think about where you want to be at the end of this period and setting realistic weight loss goals to get there could give you a much-needed sense of control. So, while you might think this isn’t a good time to make changes, it could actually be a great time to think about your future self.”

As well as access to a weekly virtual group from the comfort of their own home, Slimming World’s temporary weight loss service includes access to Slimming World’s app and member-only website LifelineOnline, which offers an abundance of practical support, including more than 1,000 recipes, as well as inspiration and motivation to stay physically active and psychologically strong.

Amy Hodgson, from Liverpool, has lost more than 5st since she joined Slimming World in January 2019. She joined her virtual group in April and has lost 12.5lbs during lockdown. She says: “I’ll admit that when this all began I struggled – I lost all motivation to stay on track with healthy eating. After my first virtual group though, I felt completely different. It was just like my usual weekly group – except on my computer – and I felt so ready for the week ahead. I realised that while I might not be able to meet up with my Consultant and fellow members in person, I had a whole world of support at my fingertips – in my phone, on social media and on the Slimming World website. I’m definitely not feeling on my own with my weight-loss now and I’ve actually lost 12.5lbs since lockdown began. This is the lightest I’ve been in a long time!”

For more information about Slimming World’s new temporary weight loss service and virtual groups visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk

Dr. Linda’s Top Tips for Staying Motivated

  1. Be motivated. We don’t know what’s going to happen over the coming weeks and months and we need to think how we want to come out of this surreal time. Our motivation – or our ‘why’ – might be different now and that’s OK. It might need to change from a longer-term goal to something more immediate. For instance, if your motivation was aiming to be fitter and healthier for an upcoming wedding or holiday, which now isn’t going to happen, it might now be all about ensuring when we leave lockdown you’re not feeling frustrated at having let go of any achievements you’ve already made.
  1. Be kind to yourself. Choosing to eat nourishing, delicious food is one of the best ways of being kind to yourself – it’s like saying a big ‘thank you’ every day to your mind and body for working so hard. If you know you want to eat well and be more active, find positive ways you can make it as easy as possible for you to do that. Planning meals and having healthy snacks ready for when you feel hungry will make you less likely to reach for something quick and easy that might take you off track. Another great example is to protect yourself when you’re shopping, so if you know you’ll struggle to resist a tempting treat if you have it in the cupboard don’t buy it in the first place or choose a smaller treat that you’ll be able to enjoy without sabotaging your plans. These little strategies are called behaviour hacks. And, if you do go off track, don’t beat yourself up, just draw a line underneath it and start again – you’re only human, after all.
  1. Be realistic. We can unintentionally set ourselves up for failure if our expectations are too big or set too high. It might be too much right now to think about an overall goal, so think instead about micro-ambitions – breaking things down into mini milestone targets. In the same way it might not be realistic for you to learn Latin or redecorate your whole home during lockdown, is it realistic for you to lose 2st or start running marathons? If it is, brilliant but, if not, instead you could think ‘I’ll go for a walk today”. By being realistic with both your goals and your expectations of yourself you’re more likely to hit your targets – and feel great about doing so, meaning you stay motivated and set yourself for success in reaching that overall end goal, too.

*Slimming World’s Health and Wellbeing Study is an on-going research project. Reported findings are a snapshot of data from the research relating to 1,000 UK adults polled in April 2020 which asked how Covid-19 affected behaviour, compared to previous responses from November 2019




About Slimming World 

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell (OBE, FRSA) in 1969. There are now more than 19,000 weekly groups supporting 900,000 members across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Groups are run by a network of 5,000 community-based Slimming World Consultants, who receive specific training in the role of diet and physical activity in weight management, as well as sophisticated behaviour-change techniques. Following the suspension of weekly groups as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Slimming World has launched a temporary virtual service so members can continue to enjoy – in a virtual environment – the vital weight-loss support, but also friendship and community spirit they find in their local group each week. Slimming World’s healthy eating plan, Food Optimising, is based on the science of satiety and energy density and satiety. Our phased activity programme, Body Magic, eases members into activity until it becomes an intrinsic part of their daily routine. Slimming World’s programme integrates practical, up-to-date advice with a highly developed support system based on care and compassion, and Consultant training focuses on facilitating, encouraging and empowering members to make changes in a supportive, warm and friendly group environment. Consultant training is delivered through the Slimming World Academy. Slimming World also invests in a comprehensive research programme to develop its support for long-term weight management. The group support provided by Slimming World is recognised as effective by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the NHS. 

For more information about Slimming World’s approach visit www.slimmingworld.co.uk or call 0344 897 8000. Follow Slimming World on Twitter at www.twitter.com/slimmingworld or become a Slimming World fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/slimmingworld

For the Press Office please email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk