Study to explore how diet and exercise are affected by social distancing

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THE RESEARCH, led by nutrition and exercise scientists at Nottingham Trent University, aims to better understand how people’s habits have changed since social distancing measures were put in place. 

The researchers are appealing for participants for the study, who will be required to answer a series of questions about their habits pre and post lockdown via an online survey.

There have been suggestions that obesity and obesity-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes increase the severity of Covid-19 symptoms and the likelihood of hospitalisation. 

Part of the work will involve investigating how meal timing impacts the effectiveness of physical activity. This follows evidence which suggests that fasted exercise – when people exercise on an empty stomach – provides greater health benefits than fed exercise.

The questionnaire will reveal what times of day people eat and exercise, which will enable the researchers to identify the most appropriate time of day to implement a fasted exercise intervention for the next stage of the work.

“Lack of physical activity and poor nutrition are the driving factors behind obesity, so we want to see how behaviours and patterns have altered from what people were doing pre-social distancing,” said Tommy Slater, a PhD researcher in NTU’s School of Science and Technology who is leading the study. 

He said: “The uncertainty around Covid-19 and the duration of social distancing measures means that we need to be prepared for longer periods of time at home and understand how this might influence our behaviour. 

“Given the potential link between obesity and the severity of the disease, it is important to identify how our behaviour has changed since social distancing was put in place. We then hope that this will lead to the development of interventions to reduce the impact long-term.”


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